6 ways play specifically impacts the brain:
1) Play stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates the growth of neurons in the amygdala (where emotions are processed) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (where executive decisions such as problem-solving and reasoning occur).
2) Play promotes the creation of neuroplasticity as well as new synaptic connections.
3) Play improves cooperation, ability to follow directions, abide by rules, accept feedback from others, and accept help from others.
4) Play improves academic performance, including math skills.
5) Play improves attention and concentration.
6) Play improves ability to connect to others and develop empathy.
6 ways you can incorporate play into your daily life:
1) Surround yourself with playful, funny people.
2) Be active. One of the quickest ways to jump-start play is to do something physical. Move, take a walk, throw a ball, and smile! Motion is one of the most basic forms of play.
3) Host regular game nights with friends.
4) Invest in an art class, buy construction or science toys, and create something. Try not to worry about whether you are "good" at the creative endeavor; just simply enjoy the experience.
5) Re-engage in a favorite hobby you may have given up at one time.
6) Watch funny movies, collect jokes, and try to find something funny to laugh at least once a day!
George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”