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#62 The Importance of Play

Have you ever wondered why, despite having it all, a sense of fulfillment seems elusive? Could your life be lacking a touch of play? Discover why even when you've got everything you ever wanted, you might still feel unfulfilled and how the key could lie in incorporating more play into your life.

With references to the National Institute for Play, we'll examine the critical role play has in our development and wellness. To spice things up a bit, I'm going to share a fantastic quiz whipped up by therapist Lindsay Braman to discover your play type.

Let's get ready to embrace the fun side of life!

Since you’re ready to become your favorite version of you, book a consult to learn more about working with me as your coach.

"Play has several positive effects on your adult brain and body and boosts your overall well-being."

What you'll learn in this episode:

  • How to incorporate more play and fun into your daily life

  • The crucial role of play in our development, according to the National Institute for Play

  • How to discover your unique play personality according to therapist Lindsay Braman

  • Benefits of play in stress reduction, improving brain function, fostering connection, and improving relationships

"By harnessing the power of our preferred play style, we can grow resilience to burn out through more satisfying work, through flow, and through knowing how to rest and recharge in satisfying ways."

Mentioned in this episode:

Be sure to sign up for a consult to see if coaching with me is the right fit for you. Join me on a powerful journey to become your favorite you.

Listen to the full episode:

Read the full episode transcript

Hey, this is Melissa Parsons, and you are listening to the, Your Favorite You podcast. I'm a certified life coach with an advanced certification in deep dive coaching. The purpose of this podcast is to help brilliant women like you with beautiful brains, create the life you've been dreaming of with intention.

My goal is to help you find your favorite version of you by teaching you how to treat yourself as your own best friend. If this sounds incredible to you and you want practical tips on changing up how you treat yourself, then you're in the right place. Just so you know, I'm a huge fan of using all of the words available to me in the English language, so please proceed with caution if young ears are around.

Hi there! Welcome back to episode number 62 of Your Favorite You. Today, I want to talk about the importance of play.

So many of my clients come to their coaching relationship with me, having everything they have ever wanted for themselves in their lives, and they are left wondering, if that is the case, why are they still not quite happy.

I have talked about this on the podcast before because many of my clients are similar to me before coaching. So many of them are living with the idea that they have to be perfect in order to be loveable. So many of them are doing things to please other people before they ever even consider pleasing themselves. And so many of them are attempting to control other people so that they can feel peace.

Another commonality that we find is that they are spending approximately zero time in their lives playing and having fun. We are spending far too much time being serious, being responsible, and being professional.

This is not to say that there are times in life where we absolutely have to be serious, responsible, and professional. There absolutely are. But when your pendulum has swung so far that you are not making any time to laugh, be silly, play, and have fun, you end up with a very serious problem. There is a reason that Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining is so scary. Many of you remember the quote “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”, along with the crazed look in Jack’s eyes in the film.

Because I value responsibility and fun pretty equally these days, I have done my research in putting this episode together for you. Unbeknownst to me, there is actually National Institute for Play here in the United States.

I hate to ever assume anything, but I think it is safe to say that most adults know the importance of play in the developing child’ s brain. I would argue that most adults don’t recognize the importance of play for our adult brains.

According to the National Institute for Play’s website, play is critically important for young children’s cognitive and emotional development. When children play, they are building new connections in the brain that will help them succeed in school, in relationships, and in life.

For adolescents and adults play is an antidote to stress and a foundation for wellness. When we have playful experiences, we are improving our brains and our lives.

If you go to check out the website, you can take an 8-question quiz developed by therapist Lindsay Braman, a licensed therapist, based on Stuart Brown, MD’s book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

You take the quiz to discover your play type. I, of course, took the quiz and was not really surprised by the results. My play type is called “the storyteller”. This is how it is described; some adults play through storytelling. The storyteller play type revels in telling and listening to stories. They are both authors and readers, but more so, they are people who weave stories throughout their life.

People who play through storytelling are the folks who can see an ordinary situation and transform it into a fascinating narrative, often captivating others as they tell their version of events. This seems about right for someone who has always loved making others laugh through telling my stories and who now has a podcast where she tells a lot of stories.

The other play types are collector, competitor, creator, director, explorer, joker, and kinesthetic.

Listen to see if any of these sound like you.

According to Braman, collectors are appreciators. They spend energy hunting, acquiring and building a collection of useful, attractive or interesting things or objects. The competitor play type plays to win, and the pursuit of that goal is itself a satisfying way to spend time and energy.

For a competitor type player, the creator type inherently is at play when they are being creative, whether it's traditional artists who paint, sculpt or draw or non-traditional creators like landscape contractors, model railroad builders, crafters and even aquarium owners. People who delight in imagining new ideas and bringing them to life all enjoying the play style of creator.

The director plays through building systems and organizing. Their play could look like coaching Little League or organizing a food drive. Folks who enjoy playing in this way find the experience of organizing, arranging and directing as intrinsically satisfying.

According to Braman, the explorer slash investigator plays through learning. They want to know and understand. This type of play is a way of exploring and orienting the world. Time spent reading, traipsing through a forest, looking for a particular bug or fern, or timing a beach combing walk with the lowest tide of the month, may be the explorer type player. The joker is the classic class clown.

The joker play style shows up in modern life as extroverts who love to entertain and make other people laugh. They're the life of the party, the class clown and the friend you can always count on for hilarious stories, reels and that sort of thing. I'm actually kind of surprised I didn't get joker, but I digress. And finally, again according to Braman, the kinesthetic player plays through body movement.

So, for the kinesthetic player, playing sports isn't about competition as much as it is about the fun and moving their body. People who pursue body-based hobbies, like trapeze artists, rock climbing and dance, may be pursuing movement-based play, play that celebrates the body's presence and movement in the world. So, I encourage you to go take this quiz.

Braman contends that knowing our play style might seem frivolous, but when we understand the importance of our leisure pursuits, it's easier to give them a place of priority in our lives. By harnessing the power of our preferred play style, we can grow resilience to burn out through more satisfying work, through flow and through knowing how to rest and recharge in satisfying ways.

According to Psych Central, play is defined as anything that you do recreationally that brings you joy or excitement. Play has several positive effects on your adult brain and body, according to a 2011 study published in the journal Psychology of Well-Being. I will post the link in the show notes. Play as an adult boost your overall well-being. The findings showed that higher playfulness scores were associated with higher creativity.

Appreciating beauty I know my hubby, Jon, and my bestie from med school, Greg, are going to love this one. I'm forever cajoling them into appreciating the beauty when we are all together.

Playfulness is also associated with approaching life with excitement and energy, playful expressions of love, a sense of hope and a sense of humor. Actively engaging in play also helps adults cope with stress. My clients and I have definitely anecdotally found that playing outside in nature seems to have the biggest benefit with stress reduction.

Playing is known to cause our body to release endorphins. This is enhanced when laughter is included in your play. Laughter stimulates circulation in the body. This sudden stimulus of circulation increases oxygen levels while also increasing levels of endorphins and reducing levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and other stress causing hormones.

Play can improve your brain function. I love to play solitaire on my phone, especially when I am watching a stressful sporting event with my family. And I am forever getting the advertisements to add more games to my phone to improve my brain function!

Play, when done with other people, stimulates connection and improves our relationships. You know, by now, if you have been listening to this podcast, is my number one aim. First to improve your relationship with yourself, and then to improve your relationship with others.

Play leads to more empathy, compassion, and trust with others. Our right brain loves it when we take time to play. Our left-brain dominant society has conditioned us to think of play as silly and unnecessary, but I hope that this podcast shows you that this is not even close to true.

Again, according to the National Institute for Play, play is uniquely rewarding, it generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce and fosters empathy. Play is also powerful in creating a sense of community.

I was inspired to write this episode as I was listening to Dr. Gabor Mate’s book, The Myth of Normal - Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture. As the neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp identified, we have a designated play system in our brains in common with other mammals.

Play is a primary engine of brain development and is also essential to the emotional maturations process. He also stresses the importance of playing with another person, making face-to-face interactions.

As I am encouraging my clients about the importance of developing as much emotional maturity as possible as adults, my clients are so impressed by their own ability to increase their emotional intelligence. This is definitely not a dig on my clients, or on myself prior to finding out about coaching.

Most of us have been taught the exact opposite of emotional intelligence as we have grown up. To know that play is essential to developing emotional intelligence is even more reason for me to continue to encourage myself and my clients as much as possible, to make room on the calendar for it every day.

Having said that, I am off to laugh and giggle and play with my hubby! See you here again next week! Thanks for listening, now go play!

Hey, everybody, don't go quite yet. I want to let you know all the ways that you can work with me.

If you've been listening to this podcast, maybe especially the episodes where I interviewed my clients and you are thinking like the older woman in the diner in the classic Meg Ryan Billy Crystal film when Harry met Sally, where Sally, proving a point to Harry, is faking an orgasm while at the diner.

Sally finishes and takes a bite of her food and the older woman in the next booth says I'll have what she's having. This is your sign from the universe to schedule a consult with me.

I'm currently enrolling clients who want to work with me in a group setting. The group will start on January 10th, and we will meet every Wednesday at 1pm until July 3rd, 2024.

I'm very excited about the women who have already made the commitment to themselves and the investment in themselves to join the group and would love to have you be part of it. I also have a few spots available for one-on-one coaching with me, if that is a way that you want to work with me.

The way to contact me is to go to my website,, and either go to the group page and click Book Now or go to the work with me page and click Book Now.

That way, you can schedule a consult. I look forward to hearing from you. Let's make 2024 your favorite year ever as you become Your Favorite You.

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