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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

"All Work and No Play Make Jack and Jill Dull...."

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 2nd 2009

 Is Play Part of Your Life?

Remember long ago when you were a child,(if you can remember that far back, ha ha), and you went outside the house to play with your friends? Or do you remember playing at home, by yourself, having utter enjoyment? In fact, do you remember the pure joy of play? I do and I remember vividly and I am a lot older than a lot of the wonderful readers of my articles. Play was thoroughly absorbing, fun, , nothing but fun. After school we could not wait to go out and play. We played everything and anything. What joy.

What if I told you that play was important for the development of your brain and social skills? What if I told you that play is important for your mental health into and throughout your entire life?

It is important that we define the word, "play."
According to the Oxford American Dictionary, play is defined as "doing something for enjoyment. It can be an imaginative activity and is engaged in without seriousness. For example, I remember playing at "cowboys and indians" as a child. We had our toy guns and loved to "shoot" at one another. I also remember that the most fun of the play was pretending we got shot so that we could tumble to the ground just like they did in the movies and lie there a few seconds until we jumped up again and resumed shooting. There were no rules, no regulations, no purpose except that we loved it. There was no purpose to the play, it served no purpose and I doubt we learned much except to be with other children.

Melinda Wenner wrote an article for Scientific American Mind entitled, "The Serious Need for Play," )February/March 2009, page 22-29). The article stressed the important role that play has in helping children to grow up to become normal and well balanced people. However, what is unique about this article is that it also stresses the importance of play for adults. The lack of play makes not only makes "Dr. Schwartz" a dull man but a very over-stressed man, as well.

Perhaps some of you think you do indulge in play and perhaps that is true for some of you. However, working out at the gym is not play. Perhaps dancing for the fun of dancing is play. Perhaps painting pictures is play, if it has no purpose other to engage in that activity for fun.  In any case, the article emphasizes the fact that is important that you play.

Play renews energy, reduces stress, promotes happiness and is healthy all around. I can almost hear some of you saying to me, "Oh sure, easy for you to say, but I have no time to waste on play. I have too much to get done." Well, actually, you will get more done and feel happier if you include play time in your schedule.

Your comments are always appreciated.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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