Play in Retirement

Play in Retirement

Play in Retirement



It seems as if children are born to know how to play, and adults just plain forget how to play.

What is play, and why is it important for adults to play daily? Especially in retirement, learn how to play again!


What is Play?


Like flow, play happens, and you enjoy it, lose all sense of time, and don’t want it to end. The inner critic quiets down, and the “me” in you fades away.

Like with flow, play must be difficult enough to keep you interested but not so difficult that you give up.

Play is joy and humor wrapped up into one!

Play is seen as self-indulgent in a productivity culture but nothing could be further from the truth. Play is important in rest and healing.

While play differs for different people, it is not cruising the internet or binging streaming services.

The old saw all work and no play makes a dull boy is true!


The opposite of play is not work; it is depression. ~Brian Sutton-Smith


Your Play History

How did you play as a child? What did you like to do when there was nothing special planned? Did you play alone or more so with other children?

Think back to some of your happy times in childhood and almost certainly, play will be involved.


Play is Neuroplasticity

Play is associated with increased neuroplasticity and thickened cerebral cortex in rats. After play, rats can run a maze faster than without play. Play also may stimulate the hippocampus and protect against depression.

Craft an enriching environment: What are your toys, and who are your playmates? Play can lead to a growth mindset and improve mindfulness.


Ideas for Adult Play

Poetry, knitting, baking, gardening, traveling, taking a nap, dinner parties, music, painting, being in nature, hiking, singing out loud, sports, sex, yoga, cooking new foods, meeting new people, collecting, laying under a tree, playing video games.



Being with children is an obvious source of playmates. Get on their level and start thinking like they do. Notice. Observe. Play!

Dogs make the best playmates, too.



Plan playdates at least 2 hours a week. This is an artist date from The Artists Way


What You Learn from Play

What resistance do you have to play? What does your inner critic say when you tell it that you will start playing more?

Pay attention to what you fear, and break out of that fear whenever you can.

You learn from play that you can still have joy and spontaneity in retirement.


Play is an ancient, voluntary, inherently pleasurable, apparently purposeless activity or process that is undertaken for its own sake, and that strengthens our muscles and our social skills, fertilizes brain activity, tempers and deepens our emotions, takes us out of time, and enables a state of balance and poise. ~Stuart Brown


Play contributes to creativity, the ability to adapt to life’s changes, and an improvement in overall well-being. It improves resiliency, happiness, and health.

Experiment, explore, and create playful rituals. Anchor play in your life and set your time (and mind) free!

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