It is a happy talent to know how to play.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Since there really are no specific talents required to engage in play, what Emerson might be saying is that we should remember to play more often. Taking a vacation is an excellent form of play. What are the reasons people give for taking their vacation in Costa Rica? “To relax and get away from it all,” “For an adventure in the jungle” or “To visit a volcano,” “To learn, perhaps a Bird Watching Tour”, “To spend time with family or friends.”
Physical play is the most obvious form of play where we see and feel the benefits. Moving your body means you are keeping fit and strengthening your muscles and organs. It also lowers stress levels and improves your mood. This is the result of lowering cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) commonly known as the flight or fight instinct. Moving your body during play is like fleeing from a predator to those important yet pesky hormones. On the flip side of that coin are endorphins, the feel-good hormones that are triggered during physical play. Endorphins are the hormones that help you relax and elevate your mood.
Other forms of play are also beneficial. Imaginative play, like arts and crafts, theater, dance and storytelling, fosters creativity and an open mind. Playing with objects like legos or Jenga, building sand castles and the manipulation of any material also ignites creative thinking and keeps your brain sharp by opening pathways to solving problems and finding patterns. Board games and team sports, or any play with a set of rules, bring you together with other people to strategize, plot and plan, keeping your brain healthy and building better relationships.
The National Institute for Play in California advises us: Instead of looking at play as a waste of time, consider it an investment in well-being. Any and all forms of play are ways to help us relax, explore, spend quality time with people we love, and leave the daily grind behind. Remember our reasons for taking a vacation? Your next vacation can be part of your commitment to play. Here at Villa San Ignacio we take play very seriously.
Here are a few of the favored vacation play areas:
But please remember to also integrate play into your everyday life. Taking time to play on a consistent basis is when you will really reap the rewards with both your personal health and well-being as well as with improved relationships. This is not a new idea. We’ll leave you with a quote by an old philosopher:
You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.-— Plato