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The Lost Art Of Play and Howling at the Moon

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

As an adult can you think of a time recently that you were totally in the moment, care free and played? Be that dancing in the kitchen, singing at the top of your lungs in the garden, or skipping down the street...?

Most of us would struggle to say that they played yesterday, or even last week. If you can say that fantastic! Well done you, and you probably don't need to keep reading!! If you haven't played recently then stay with me...

For most of us who struggle to say yes we have played recently- what is that about? Why as adults do we have to become so bogged down with the monotonous, mundane stuff like what to cook for tea, paying the bills, food shopping etc etc.?

I know that stuff is important and needs to be done of course but why must it be done without fun. Mary Poppins made everything into a game, including tidying your bedroom, so why can't we?

One of my children recently turned to me and said "oh look mummy a full moon", my instant response, without thinking, was to throw my head back and let out an almighty howl! This was met with utter delight and no questions by my children, who proceeded to also throw their heads back and howl at the moon. They thought this was hilarious. And do you know what? -it felt really good!!

This moment made me realise I have at times lost the art of being playful, of just being silly and free from life's stresses and societies parameters of acceptable behaviour.


Even Superman likes to play

I read a story the other day and it really reminded me of the howling at the moon playfulness I experienced with my kids, I'd like to share it with you.

When 'Superman' Christopher Reeve had his accident that left him a tetraplegic, he was initially in the depths of despair. His close friend the comedian Robin Williams went to visit him in hospital. But he didn't just show up with flowers, which I think most of us would do in that situation.

Instead, Robin Williams dressed up as an eccentric Russian doctor, in a crazy outfit and talked in a strong accent.

When Christopher Reeve realized it was his old friend playing a joke on him, he laughed for the first time since he was paralyzed and later wrote in his autobiography that was the moment he knew life would go on.

I love that story, because I wish in our society adults were encouraged to play, to joke, and to clown around the way children are.

Life has been very serious recently for all of us with a global pandemic to deal with, economical challenges, plus each of us have no doubt all had our own financial/health/mental health challenges too. So now more than ever we need to play!

My advice to you: Harness your inner child and howl at the moon.

Wolf howling at the moon


The benefits of the lost art of play

  • Stress relief

  • Increased creativity

  • Increased productivity

  • Better all round well-being


How can I play as an adult?

1.Switch the phone off! Your phone as lovely and shiny as it is, is a massive distraction and is full generally of very sensible grown up stuff, newsfeeds and people complaining on social media etc etcSwitch it off, or on silent and play it out of the way, when you plan to have some play time so you can really be in the moment.

2. Remind yourself what you like to do, or what you enjoyed as a kid. Maybe you loved a certain sport- can you join a local armature club/team? Maybe you liked playing board games- get them out of the dusty attic or cupboard or order some new ones and see what sparks an interest.

Make a list of the games or hobbies you once had or have never tried and would like to have a go at.

3. Plan a play date with your other half. Dates with our partners don't have to be romantic candle lit dinners and a movie it can be playing cards, playing a board game or going to a theme park (without the children!)

4. Hang out with a kid. Spend time with your own children/nieces and nephews- kids know instinctively how to have fun! Let them lead the game and go with their suggestions. You will be surprised how imaginative their play is.

5. Simply be silly. Be daft at home, at work, with the kids/grandkids, with your pets, with a friend or even on your own. Whilst walking past an empty swing in the park don't resist that urge, give in and have a little swing on it! Kick your legs and feel the wind on your face.

Put the radio on to some cheesy songs whilst you work or do chores and dance about to it, sing along (ideally badly!) at the top of your voice even if the windows are open.

Drop those adult inhibitions even just for 5 minutes and it will be worth it.

Young adult playing at the park


Author: Gill Jackson of Gill Jackson Therapeutic Counselling, BA Hons Counselling, Diploma in Couples and Family Therapy, Diploma in EFT, CIPD, SMACCPH

Bio: I am a Therapeutic Counsellor/Psychotherapist and Accredited Mentor in private practice in the UK. Qualified since 2007. Working with adults and young adults, specialising in Anxiety and Depression.


This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, if you are suffering from any physical or mental ill health please seek advice of your Doctor where necessary.

Images used with permission from Wix and Unsplashed.

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