Playtime, it’s not just for kids. How adults’ mental health can benefit from play during coronavirus pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. — When is the last time you took time out of your day to play? Put down your phone, and did something with joyful abandon?

Mental health experts say play is not just for kids. Especially in stressful times, like the current coronavirus pandemic, it can more beneficial than ever for all ages, both young and old.

“We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up,” said Scott G. Eberle, Ph.D, vice president for play studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play, according to an article posted on PsychCentral.


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Play brings joy and is vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships, the article says.

In an article addressing ways for adults to combat coronavirus anxiety, HelpGuide.org, a nonprofit mental health and wellness website, suggests play as one of its methods to decrease stress.

“Read a good book, watch a comedy, play a fun board or video game, make something—whether it’s a new recipe, a craft, or a piece of art,” the article states. “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it takes you out of your worries.”

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Channel 9 anchors and reporters have taken this advice to heart in recent weeks.

Anchor Martha Sugalski took to her kids pogo stick in between homeschooling lessons.

And reporter Myrt Price took time for an epic Nerf gun battle with his kids before the day’s virtual school got underway.

Sometimes play can be as simple as going on bike ride with no destination or playing fetch with your dog, according to HelpGuide.org.

“Adult play is a time to forget about work and commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way,” the website says. “By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap oodles of health benefits throughout life.”

For investigative reporter Karla Ray, that looks like a bike ride through her neighborhood.

For reporter Cierra Putman, it looks like a socially distant walk on lesser-known streets.

HelpGuide.org says the benefits of play are plentiful: it relieves stress, improves brain function, stimulates the mind, boosts creativity, improves relationships and your connection to others, and keeps you feeling young and energetic.

Some additional suggestions for play in a socially distant world include hosting a virtual game night with friends or family, playing with your pet or your children.

No matter what, find a way to laugh and have fun. Doctor’s orders.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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