Play is mostly used to describe and encourage children to let loose, have fun, and learn by doing. It comes easy, and is a natural thing for kids to do because:
Kids are submersed in the present moment. There are no distractions keeping them from simply enjoying the experience at hand, like what they have to do tomorrow or did yesterday. They are simply in the present.
Kids are without crippling self-judgment. They let the joy of their senses guide them through the moment.
Creativity oozes from their pores. “What if I tried jumping this way or that way? What if I used blue paint with red paint?”
As we grow into adults we build skills that help us function in the world socially, professionally, and interpersonally. Because of increasing demands, though, it’s easy to forget practicing what came to us so naturally as children, but it’s so important to experience the joy of being alive. It fuels our resiliency through life’s inevitable challenges and offers healing to our whole selves. Play is medicine, and it is our birthright.
Here are 5 ways of using our 5 senses to creatively add play throughout the day:
Make a meal with your hands! There’s nothing like interesting textures to get your playful side to come out. By doing something you know will inevitably be messy, you can throw perfection out the window and dive into feeling the soft, crunchy, gooey textures of nourishing food!
Examples of Playing with Your Sense of Touch:
Sauerkraut: Making homemade sauerkraut involves massaging the cabbage by hand in the brine!
Chocolate Chip Cookies: Use those hands to make the dough!
Spring Rolls: Each ingredient will eventually pass through your hands as you arrange each roll in the rice paper--what a fun work of art!
Draw, paint, and color! Set aside 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning or after dinner for a little drawing time. Gather your supplies the night before so all you have to do is sit down and doodle. Take a breath and get out of your head, let your fingers move how they want on the page. There’s no right or wrong here! It’s the experience that counts.
Examples of Playing with Your Sense of Sight:
Draw something from your dreams the night before
Draw how you want to “feel” with shapes
Find a color or two that feels good to you and put it on the paper in any which way
Because it’s flower season here in the PNW, literally stop to smell the flowers! Make a goal to smell at least 3 different plants/flowers during your day and really take a moment to let the scent wash over you.
If allergies get in the way of this, get creative with smells that work for you. Maybe there are a few candles calling for your attention at the market. Are there some essential oils you could sample before you check out of line? Make a point to use that nose of yours for something “fun”!
Examples of Playing with Your Sense of Smell:
Smell the PNW flowers!
Allergies? Use candles or essential oils
Take a loved one on a “blind date”. Blind fold them and either take them to a restaurant they’ve never been to or make a special meal at home and feed them some delectable bites while they’re blindfolded. Feel free to take turns! Notice how you taste differently when you can’t see what you’re eating!
Examples of Playing with Your Sense of Taste:
Try new foods
Combine sense of sight and taste! Blindfold and feed your partner delectable bites!
Put on your favorite song and DANCE! Close the blinds if you must. Blindfold yourself if you want. But drop the inner critic and get those toes tapping and hips swinging! Movement is medicine, so get creative with your moves. Make them big or small with the sounds and tones in your favorite song. Sing the lyrics loud and proud. Bang on the floor, on the walls, on pots and pans. Let the sense of sound literally move your body!
Examples of Playing with Your Sense of Sound:
Listen to your favorite music
Sing your favorite song
Dance to your heart’s content
Let sound move you--emotionally, spiritually, and physically!
Creating a full sensory experience is a sure way to experience “play”, so be creative, have an open mind, and enjoy what you’re doing!
Krystal Meyer (LMT) is a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in Myofascial Release, Deep Tissue, Craniosacral and Tui Na. She tailors every session for her clients, pulling from each modality to varying degrees, all the while appreciating the power of the mind, body, and spirit connection. Krystal maintains a deep trust in our body’s innate healing wisdom and avidly believes that when one facet of our being is affected, so too are the others in a harmonious and symbiotic way. She works with her clients to restore balance and ease in their lives, ranging from lessening chronic pain to calming a hyper-vigilant nervous system. Massage to Krystal is far from being a luxury; it is a valuable resource that leads to a more embodied and fulfilling life.