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Doctors’ Orders- Kids Need a Dose of Daily Playtime

Written by Contributor. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on May 15, 2019 with No Comments

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Olesia Bilkei / stock.Adobe.com

At your child’s next check-up, don’t be surprised if your pediatrician recommends a healthy dose of play. Beyond the typical preventive care strategies for healthy child development, more pediatricians are recognizing play’s multifaceted benefits.

Play is fundamentally important for developing 21st century skills, including social, emotional, language and cognitive skills, according to a recent clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends play for children to buffer toxic stress, build parental relationships and improve executive functioning.

For these reasons, The Genius of Play is hosting “Play All May,” the first-ever month-long celebration of play. The celebration will further the organization’s mission of educating families about the benefits of play by helping parents understand how a “prescription for play” supports children.

To help ensure your kids get their daily dose of play, The Genius of Play is offering these fun ideas you can do together as a family.

• Take me – “in” – to the ball game:With the long tube from a roll of wrapping paper as a bat and a balloon as a ball, you can safely play “baseball” indoors. Simply designate four pieces of furniture or other markers as bases and you’re ready to go. A great game for kids 4 years and up, it’s also a useful way to build cognitive skills, improve hand-eye coordination and, most importantly, have fun indoors. Is the sun shining? Take the fun to the backyard, with a real T-ball or softball set and use trees, bird houses and other markers as bases.

• Worlds of imagination:Kids are not yet able to express their emotions as adults would. But when they create imaginary scenarios during play, they can act out their current emotional states, which in turn helps them learn to express and regulate their feelings. Through the use of toys such as dolls, action figures and playsets, children are able to express emotions like fear, frustration, anger or aggression, in situations they control, as well as build empathy and understanding.

• It’s no cake walk:Get some exercise while building social skills. Show children how to walk like crabs: hands and feet on the floor, stomach facing up. See if they can balance something on their stomachs, such as a bag of beans, while they move. To make it competitive, have everyone race to a marked finish line. Or, organize a relay race to encourage teamwork and cooperation.

• Puzzle it out:Brain-teasers, puzzles and strategy-based games are not just good old-fashioned fun, they strengthen critical thinking skills by facilitating a child’s ability to strategize and focus. From jigsaw puzzles to fast-paced board games with buzzers and egg timers, such types of play sharpen children’s planning skills and lengthen their attention spans. And, when children are faced with a problem during play, the situation can test their reasoning and judgment — and ability to find a solution.

For more play ideas as well as information about the benefits of play, visit TheGeniusofPlay.org.

This May, make life more fun by celebrating play and encouraging more of it. Your kids will be happier and healthier if they get their daily dose of play alongside other activities!

 

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Olesia Bilkei / stock.Adobe.com

 

Laughter is good for your Health

 

Sure, it’s fun to share a good laugh. But did you know it can actually improve your health? It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.

Why is laughter the sweetest medicine for the mind and body?

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Laughter is good for your health

Laughter relaxes the whole body.A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system.Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins,the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter burns calories.OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer.A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Physical health benefits of laughter:

Boosts immunity

Lowers stress hormones

Decreases pain

Relaxes your muscles

Prevents heart disease

Mental health benefits of laughter:

Adds joy and zest to life

Eases anxiety and tension

Relieves stress

Improves mood

Strengthens resilience

Social benefits of laughter:

Strengthens relationships

Attracts others to us

Enhances teamwork

Helps defuse conflict

Promotes group bonding

Laughter helps you stay mentally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And this positive feeling remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.

The link between laughter and mental health

Laughter stops distressing emotions.You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Laughter helps you relax and recharge.It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.

Laughter shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and diffuse conflict.

Laughter draws you closer to others, which can have a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.

Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships

There’s a good reason why TV sitcoms use laugh tracks: laughter is contagious. You’re many times more likely to laugh around other people than when you’re alone. And the more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel.

Sharing humor is half the fun—in fact, most laughter doesn’t come from hearing jokes, but rather simply from spending time with friends and family. And it’s this social aspect that plays such an important role in the health benefits of laughter. You can’t enjoy a laugh with other people unless you take the time to really engage with them. When you care about someone enough to switch off your phone and really connect face to face, you’re engaging in a process that rebalances the nervous system and puts the brakes on defensive stress responses like “fight or flight.” And if you share a laugh as well, you’ll both feel happier, more positive, and more relaxed—even if you’re unable to alter a stressful situation.

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