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VIEWPOINT: As adults, we can't underestimate the value of playtime

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When we see little children at play, they are immersed in the present moment, with seemingly no distractions. In fact, if we were to call their name and they appeared to ignore us, they would contend they did not hear us. When they are playing, they enter a different world, one that involves their body, mind and spirit. How often do we enter into the moments of our lives with such total abandon?

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We know that when we're facing a difficult task, if we can find something to laugh about, we feel better and our resiliency increases. We don't take the situation, or ourselves, so seriously and we're more able to step back a bit and put things into perspective.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a play area at every office complex and all we had to do when we're facing a troubling situation was head for the sandbox or the swings? Or perhaps we could go to the toy toolbox or kitchen, putter around a bit and talk to ourselves so the answers would naturally come to us?

And yet, how often do we just keep our heads down and keep working, knowing full well we need to take a break? In that moment, if we would take a breath, we would return to the problem at hand with potentially fresh, innovative ideas and solutions.

For adults, we often think that play is for children and we have to force ourselves to justify including it in our schedule. We make a tee time and wonder if we can really spare that four hours on the golf course with our friends or family. We make the reservation for the camping site and wonder if we should take that overnight with our family, making s'mores and settling back for the evening under the stars. We schedule that weekend away with our friends and check our phone constantly to find out if we're missing anything at home.

For adults, play is something we take seriously and is also something we think we can forgo because we so often see it as unnecessary. And yet, play for us is just as important as it is for children. For them, they are working out the difficulties and new situations they are facing in their everyday world. The play is immediate and they immerse themselves completely in the experience. For us, play means we are taking time to step back and consciously create space in our world for something renewing and rejuvenating. We are helping ourselves find answers to the questions we are asking as much as they are. So what can you do today to make time for play?

Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist

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