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Take a Play-cation

Posted on August 11, 2015 by Sunny South News

Loraine Debnam

Summer is traditionally the season when we take a break from the regular routines of our lives and spend time away with family and friends.
Baseball games, golf tournaments, family reunions, time at the lake, a picnic in the park, a swim in the local pool — it doesn’t matter.
Forgetting about work and commitments for a brief stretch is really good for us, according to mental health expertS.
When we share fun and laughter with others, it releases endorphins which are the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals.
Many contemporary businesses understand play stimulates creativity, fuels the imagination and heightens problem-solving abilities. Play provides the impetus for nerve growth in portions of our brain and relieves stress.
When corporations encourage their employees to spend some time away from the sensory overload of electronic gadgets, a team-building atmosphere often results which, in turn, leads to a positive optimistic outlook when solving company problems.
Playing with a child is another recommended activity. If we let the youngster take the lead and we become a part of their game, following along introduces us to imaginative new worlds.
I can certainly attest to that, as we recently returned from a wonderful week at a cottage on Moyie Lake.
Riding bikes morphed into creating a full and winding race course and then building jumps and many shouts of “watch me, watch me.”
Working on a sand castle on the beach transformed into a huge construction site with roads, ditches, water barriers and driftwood bridges. There was no final “finished” product that many adults strive for. The focus was on the experience not the accomplishment of a particular goal.
There was no fear of doing it wrong, if a plan didn’t work, the kids learned from it and did it differently the next time.
We took the opportunity to spend a day at Fort Steele, while we were there. My grandson discovered I knew a few things about Canadian history.
Although he could literally run circles around me as we toured, the stops we made resulted in a time of positive bonding, which will become (I hope) a part of his memories of our times together.
Riding the steam train was an awesome experience for both of us and the horse-drawn wagon trips around the grounds were very exciting. I must admit they also made me very grateful I did not have to be part of the travels west on the Oregon Trail.
Author George Bernard Shaw once commented, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”
Just as kids do better academically if they have recess breaks, word puzzles, card games, brain teasers and other thinking games help delay mental decline in older folks.
My Mom certainly knows what she’s doing — playing bridge, euchre and crib several times a week, floor curling on a regular team and line-dancing just for the fun of it. She can adapt a knitting pattern for any change required and is a wizard at Scrabble.
Maybe, if I keep a positive attitude about playing, I can be that sharp by the time I reach 84?

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