The Psychological Case for Adult Play Time – JARED KELLER

For adults, play time is far from over.

Exhausted by the crushing yoke of their daily obligations, adults around the world are flocking to the playgrounds of their childhoods in search of relaxation and release. Not surprisingly, an entire cottage industry has subsequently sprouted up to help world-weary workers satiate their inner child. In Brooklyn, an adult preschool lets office drones finger paint, participate in arts and crafts, and re-enact schoolyard favorites like show and tell for as little as $333 a class. In the United Kingdom, a design studio opened a ball pit just for grown-ups, whilelaughter clubs in India offer a form of both spiritual and physical exercise for disgruntled citizens. And this week, the two best-selling books on Amazon were “adult coloring books” published by Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford.

Being a kid, it seems, is back in. But what are we to make of this sudden nostalgia for the carefree play time of our youth? Is this fixation an infantilizing trend, part of the Millennial generation’s unwillingness to grow up and face the world? Recent research has shown that people of all ages benefit from unstructured play time as a respite from the grind of daily life. According to research, play can relieve stress, boost creativity, improve brain function, and improve our relationships with other people by fostering trust with others: It’s accepted by psychologists and researchers as an essential component for childhood development—and a lack of play time is seen as a major health obstacle for poor and inner-city children.

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