If this headline sounds familiar - you may remember Mel Brooks' outrageous (for the times) movie, "Blazing Saddles"...a comedic romp that took theaters by storm in 1974.
As this is my first blog on our CenterPointe, PC Therapists Site, it seemed an appropriate way to introduce the topic of humor, play and creativity and the critical role they play in good mental health...
Although Play Therapy is familiar with regard to working with children, it isn't as prevalent when working with adults. Hopefully that is changing. Common is the idea among the general adult population (anecdotal reference, I know) that "play is for kids"..."I'm too old for that"..."I don't have time for that - I have WORK to do."
Oh contrare! There have been myriad studies and on-going research that demonstrate that playing "...shapes the brain and opens the imagination (Stuart Brown, MD)" and often, especially when introduced in therapy, provides a vehicle that helps "...unlock the deeply rooted and seemingly unspeakable feelings" (Dottie Ward-Wimmer, RN, MA, RPT-S).
When we play, when we laugh, when we are engaging our 'creative juices', our blood pressure tends to be lower, and the level of 'feel-good' body chemicals (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins) is higher. Studies have shown an increase in work productivity when people are encouraged to make time for fun in their work day.
Whenever I need to draw myself out of a gloomy/stressful patch , I might take 15 or 20 minutes and google YouTube to find clips from the old Carol Burnett Show (the Harvey Korman and Tim Conway Dentist office skit is a fav), maybe watch comedienne Kathleen Madigan's "Yoga lesson", or perhaps google some of the thousands of hilarious dog, kitten and baby videos) - it's free, fast and hopefully habit-forming.
Because there never seems to be a shortage of serious, sobering, intense emotional work to be addressed in therapy - because I rarely see adults who describe their lives as relaxing, balanced and evenly-paced - it is an honor for me to be able to introduce them to the benefits of playing, for the sheer pleasure and fun of it, as an integral part of the therapeutic healing process.
So try this:
Next time you are feeling the effects of too much stress - take your shoes off and walk on the ground barefoot, let yourself color, paint, journal, buy some helium balloons and release them, close your eyes and randomly flip a thesaurus to a page, put your finger on the page and see what word you land on. Now use it 5 times today! Talk with a foreign accent for an hour and see if anyone notices...go on! I dare you!
Please feel free to share some ways in which you build time for fun in your day!
Casey Roake Peddicord, MA is a Counselor and co-partner of CenterPointe Therapists, PC.