Life gets all grown-up really fast. Plus, as we continue to age, things like divorce, illness or job loss might even get sprinkled in on top, further clamoring for our attention.

“We’ve pushed playtime away from our brains but, ironically, that’s the type of thing that would actually help us cope with life’s challenges,” Hall adds. “The thing we don’t think we need any longer, well, we need it even more.”

Today, we’ve discovered much more about the science of play and its effect on adults, not just kids. When we play and experience joy, our grown-up brains release the good chemicals that can help us feel better, act better and live longer. Hall says one example is dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that keeps the stress hormone cortisol at bay.

“Take away those moments of joy and we open the door to cortisol, resulting in stress,” he says. “That added stress is linked to depression, anxiety, pain, hostility and substance abuse.”

SERIOUSLY? All of the pressures of adulthood can be resolved by a little childlike play?

That’s counterintuitive! Play is described as fanciful… fun-loving…lighthearted.

It’s hard to believe that something so frivolous could be so important.

On the contrary, a little playtime actually packs some very serious power:

• Just 30 minutes of play unlocks dopamine as well as serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins that affect us on a deep chemical level. Those hormones boost pleasure and curb stress, promote social bonding and love, control depression and pain, and nurture our well being (Source: "Play and the Feel-Good Hormones,”, June 23, 2016).

• The Mayo Clinic reports that play contributes to greater happiness, healthy aging and resilience. Those who think of themselves as more playful find the challenges in life more manageable, which is good because play is a skill that can be practiced and learned (Source: ”5 ways to bring play back into your life,” S. Peterson,, Apr 3, 2018).