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Play as Medicine

Exercise, sports and other forms of play based movement are seemingly less and less common past times as we become busier, more stressed, and less able to keep up with the demands and commitments of the lifestyles propagated by modern culture. Yet, our nature hasn't changed. These things are needs, not wants, when looking at what allows us to be healthy and thriving. Making movement and play a priority is more important than ever. We can all benefit from the freedom and fun to be found while staying more grounded within our bodies.

Not only do we stay physically healthier when we are active, we also help to balance out the stresses we inevitably face. Statistically, mental health concerns are becoming more and more prevalent, even to the point of becoming normalized. But we don't have to accept settling into life long struggles with depression, addictions, anxiety, and the chronic issues that often accompany these dis-orders. Trauma and other stress are stored in our bodies, and movement based play can help shift those energies, giving us the space to process the trials of life more smoothly and gracefully. We can get out of our thinking/stressing cycles and back into our bodies.

If we make conscious choices, on a daily basis, to incorporate things that we enjoy, we can interrupt the patterns that threaten to overwhelm us. We can break out of the habits that allow us to fall into sedentary, illness supporting lifestyles, and create lifestyles that inspire wellness. Movement based play, in any form that brings us laughter, joy, and connection with others, stimulates goodness within multiple systems of our bodies. It increases our immunity, encourages healing and growth, evens out blood pressure, heart rates and oxygenation, and generally makes life better. When we enjoy what we do, even though we may also have to do some things that we don't love, our bodies and our minds react and adjust accordingly.

This type of play can be anything, from structured settings like sports leagues or martial arts classes, to something as simple as dancing in the living room with your family. We've all done things at one time or another that made us light up and feel more alive. (We find this with horses!) Experimenting with some of the the activities we have fond memories of, as well as trying things that have always sounded intriguing, is a great place to start, because it really doesn't matter what we're doing. As long as we're moving and having fun, we'll receive benefits. And watching out for some of the problems we may encounter when we try to make change will help us avoid quitting before we've really begun. For example trying to do too much at once, or doing what we think we 'should' do rather than focusing on the things we love to do, will become discouraging really quickly. Though it may be challenging at first, when we take an honest look at the kind of life we want, we are better able to set ourselves up for our individual versions of success and health.

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