Why do people stop playing?
Play is important in midlife as it contributes to overall well-being and personal growth. While play is often associated with children, it remains relevant and valuable throughout life as a stress reducer, as a way to foster creativity and innovation, encourages social connection and improves mental and physical health. So, with all these wonderful attributes, how come so many of us stop playing in adulthood?
Here are a few reasons why:
- Social expectations: As people transition into adulthood, societal norms and expectations may place greater emphasis on productivity, responsibilities, and seriousness. Playfulness might be viewed as childish or frivolous, leading some individuals to suppress their natural inclination to engage in playful activities.
- Time constraints: Adult life often comes with increased responsibilities such as work, family, and other obligations. The demands of daily life can leave little time or energy for play. Adults may prioritise more practical or necessary activities, leaving little room for leisure and playfulness.
- Lack of opportunities: The availability of opportunities for play can diminish as people grow older. Playgrounds, toys, and structured play environments are often geared towards children. As a result, adults may have fewer readily accessible outlets for playful activities unless actively sought out or created.
- Cultural influences: Cultural factors can also play a role. Some cultures may place less emphasis on adult play, considering it inappropriate or less valuable compared to other activities. Cultural expectations and norms can impact whether adults feel encouraged or discouraged from engaging in playful behaviours.
- Perception of maturity: Some adults associate playfulness with immaturity and believe that being serious and responsible is a hallmark of adulthood. They may feel pressure to conform to societal expectations of maturity and professionalism, leading them to suppress their playful nature.
- Lack of awareness or prioritisation: Adults may simply not prioritise play or may not recognise its importance for their well-being. If they do not understand the benefits of play or how to incorporate it into their lives, it may fall by the wayside in favour of other activities.
Not all adults stop playing. Many continue to engage in playful activities throughout their lives, recognising the positive impact it has on their well-being and quality of life. Do you know people like this? They are often the people we can be very drawn to as they exhibit a twinkle in their eye, they are good fun to be around and have a sense of vitality and an air of mischievousness about them! Maybe we even long to be more like them.
So please remember as you enter midlife (35-65) that play is not just for children; it continues to be important in adulthood for promoting physical and mental health, fostering creativity, nurturing social connections, and enhancing the overall quality of life. Embracing play as a part of adult life can lead to greater happiness, resilience, and a more balanced and fulfilling existence. Why not start today and call a mate up and see if they fancy a game of squash, a pub quiz, a walk on the hills or a road trip? Go on, I dare you!