Your Inner Child: Rediscovering the Magic of Play

Rediscovering the Inner Child

“Keep in mind that art and play need not be perfect. It can be simple and messy, like playing in sand or finger painting . . .”

In the hustle and bustle of adult life where responsibilities, deadlines, and routines dominate our days, the concept of play and imagination might seem like a distant childhood memory. However, as we journey through the complexities of adulthood, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of practicing play and using your imagination even past the age of childhood. It’s not just child’s play; it’s a powerful tool for enhancing overall wellness.

“Act Your Age!”

Why do most people believe adulthood means giving up things that brought us joy as a child? We’ve been conditioned to associate adulthood with work and responsibilities, leaving “no time to waste” on “childish” things like play, art, and activities that are fun. Do you ever feel guilty for doing something fun for yourself, or shameful for “acting like a child” when you’re expected to be an “adult?” Maybe the phrase “act your age” comes to mind. Why can’t we go on swings or run around the playground, fingerpaint, or buy ourselves a squishmallow, rather than pretending we’re buying it for our kids? With all the complexities of life swirling around us, it’s important no, prudent to slow down and listen to the little voice inside of us silently screaming for us to acknowledge it. That voice is known as our inner child.

Social Bonding 

The adult in you may be questioning this concept of an inner child (which is your outer adult talking, by the way), and I can understand your skepticism. So, let’s discuss the facts. How does play improve health and wellness? It reduces stress; play triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s natural stress relievers, and helps reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation. Playing also encourages creative thinking and problem-solving skills. 

It can help you approach challenges with a fresh perspective and build mental resilience by encouraging adaptability. Adult “playdates” (like meeting friends at a park or art class) are great for engaging your creativity and connecting with others just like kid playdates. Sharing playful moments with others can strengthen social bonds and create memorable experiences.

Engaging in play activates and grows your imagination another important benefit. Imagination is the canvas upon which we paint our dreams and aspirations. Encouraging adults to cultivate their imagination can lead to benefits such as:

» evoking innovation 

» engaging critical-thinking skills 

» improving mood and reducing anxiety 

» encouraging self-reflection and self-discovery 

» enhancing communication skills 

» aiding in expressing thoughts and ideas more effectively

Imagination is one of our greatest gifts, yet we forget to use it as abundantly as we once did as kids just like having that imaginary friend who faded from memory as we grew up.

Accessing Your Inner Child

So, how do we bring back play into our adult lives? First, we need to make time for it. Set aside time for play, making it just as important as work and family commitments. This could be as simple as dedicating an hour each week to engage in creative activities or hobbies. Next, uncover what brings you joy by revisiting the things you loved as a kid, whether it’s painting, playing an instrument, or even building with LEGO. If you need help remembering your childhood likes, talk to family, look back at pictures, or walk through a toy store and see what makes you smile.

Playtime can be solo or with companions; make it a sociable event by engaging in group activities, joining clubs, or participating in team sports to combine play with social interaction. You can also have a meditative time to reconnect with yourself and your inner child. This solo play can be a practice in mindfulness and a gateway to fostering imagination and creative thinking.

Still at a loss for ways to begin creative play? Do what first comes to mind. It could be as simple as running down a hill, swinging at the park, or making snow angels in a field. If you need some guidance to activate your imagination, try learning a new art skill through video or alongside a friend. Keep in mind that art and play need not be perfect. It can be simple and messy, like playing in sand or finger painting art for the sake of art and just doing something “mindless” for the fun of it. Art and play shouldn’t be a chore or another thing that you need to do; it should be fun, carefree, and just an act of pure joy.

As adults, we often underestimate the power of play and imagination. Yet, these fundamental aspects of human experience should not be reserved solely for children. By incorporating play and nurturing our imagination, we can lead more fulfilling, creative, and joyful lives. So let’s remember the magic from our childhood and make space for it, for our own well-being. It’s time to rediscover the joy of being a child at heart, no matter your age. Your inner child is calling out to you, asking you to acknowledge it - will you listen and take the time to play?