To regular visitors of this blog, the benefits of play are not new. As you may recall, I recently was invited to give a program to Florida lawyers about play's value (notes from that presentation); I am not the only advocate of lawyer play.
According to leisure expert Dr. E. Christine Moll, "play" is as important to a person's health as keeping cholesterol levels in check and getting regular exercise. Moll, a professional counselor and professor of counseling and human services at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, explains that leisure is like medicine. "It airs out our brain. It renews our spirit. It gives us clarity of thought. It's a benefit to our blood pressure. It gives us life satisfaction. For all the dimensions of our lives: our physical, mental, spiritual and cognitive health " leisure time should be a necessity not a luxury."
Moll also notes that the biggest abusers of the all-work-and-no-play lifestyle are Baby Boomers. "This generation really pushes to gain the
American Dream and thinks nothing of putting in long hours or forgoing vacations for only long weekends," she says. "They often find it hard to put the breaks on, catch their breath and relax."
Moll's colleague, David L. Farrugia, PhD, chair of the Counseling and Human Services Department at Canisius and a professional counselor, says that by the time patients come to him, many have already visited their primary doctor for anxiety-like symptoms. Stress is often the culprit. "Physiologically, the body is able to adapt and function at high levels of stress but eventually it begins to take its toll on a person's mental and physical health," says Farrugia. In the professional world this condition is known as general adaptive syndrome (GAS), first identified by Hans Selye, MD, who pioneered stress research and is known internationally as the "father of the stress field."
If the physical concerns aren't enough to provoke you to put play into your life, Moll says to consider the long-term benefits of leisure. Under Moll's guidance, Canisius alumna, Summer M. Reiner examined the pivotal role leisure can play throughout a person's life. "Findings show that people who nurture leisure activities throughout their lives have a much healthier outlook physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and in their sense of selves, says Reiner.
Reiner found that children who actively participate in leisure activities tend to grow into confident, active and satisfied adults. ...