Challenging times. 

Difficult times. 

Extraordinary times. 

These are all phrases that have been used repeatedly during the Coronavirus pandemic and they are all true. Let’s sit with that for a moment . . . People are still contracting the virus, some are becoming very sick at home while others need to go to the hospital. And sadly, some are dying. The economy is suffering and some businesses may never re-open. These are indeed hard times and in no way should we minimize the suffering that is taking place.

With that being said, this post is about the need to play during stressful phases in life. Play, according to sociologists, psychologists and counselors is not just for children and provides a number of benefits which may be useful during this pandemic. Authors Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Jennifer Shubin list several positive reasons for incorporating play into one’s daily routine in their article The Benefits of Play for Adults. Play, particularly during troublesome times, can be useful to release stress and, “trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.” It allows you to break away from the reality of a situation for a brief time, re-center and revitalize one’s energy level. Games such as chess, checkers and puzzles, according to the authors, can also help prevent memory loss and depression issues. In addition, play promotes creativity which in turn can be helpful one address problems from different angles. Another wonderful benefit of play is that it can “foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others.”

In an interview with NPR, Dr. Stuart Brown, head of the National Institute for Play suggests, another reason why play may be beneficial, “What you begin to see when there’s major play deprivation in an otherwise competent adult is that they’re not much fun to be around,” he says. “You begin to see that the perseverance and joy in work is lessened and that life is much more laborious.”

These are indeed serious times and everyone needs to take care of themselves. For possible increased feelings of well-being during these tumultuous times consider giving play a try. Results may include lower blood pressure, happy hearts, and unexpected outbursts of laughter, feelings of joy and smiley faces. 

Here is a quick “play-list” to get one started while isolated at home:

  1. 11 Best Games to Play on Zoom
  2. The 23 Best Online Games to Play With Friends During the Coronavirus Outbreak
  3. How to Stay Fit and Active at Home During the Coronavirus Self- Isolation
  4. Spotify Dance List

Take care everyone!

By Melissa Connell, Ombuds Director, University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical Campus