In recent months, physical, playful activity has been the only way out of painful ruminations for me, providing a temporary respite from debilitating depression. Its transformative power is surprising to me for its ability to help me manage my emotions.
Evolutionary biologist and animal behavioral specialist Marc Bekoff, PhD, once said that “play is training for the unexpected.” And psychiatrist and play expert Stuart Brown, MD, said, “Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.”
In an article published in the spring 2011 issue of the American Journal of Play, Boston College research professor Peter Gray, PhD, wrote:
Over the past half century or so, in the United States and in some other developed nations, opportunities for children to play, especially to play outdoors with other children, have continually declined. Over this same period, measures of psychopathology in children and adolescents — including indices of anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, and narcissism — have continually increased.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gray, author of Free to Learn, about the importance of play not only for kids, but for adults.