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Letter FromTe Editor
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By Dr. Liz Vogt
Transformational things thathappen when we ‘play well withothers’: Our brains work better.Our stress is lifted. We learn newskills. Our depression gets light-er. We feel more connected to ourloved ones. We see creative solu-tions to old problems. And yet,‘play’ gets queued somewherebetween ‘buying new jeans’ and‘having a snack’.As a therapist who works withkids, teens, and young adults, Ioften explain to parents, couples,and single adults that play is notfrivolous or inconsequential. Itis most certainly the languageof children, but it is also a criti-cal part of all relationships. It isout of a place of shared interestand joy that we form our deepestbonds that in turn form relation-ships, families, and communities.This matters for everyone.The obstacles I see most often inpeople’s lives involve monotony,time management, and finances.Many parents have been relievedto hear it is so much better togive your child 40 minutes of focused time when they can beemotionally present and focused(read: Turn off your phone.) thanThe second point is hopefullyinspirational. Not sure what todo together? Well, televisiononly hits two of the five senses;you can do better. Plan a menuand cook something, createsomething, see something new,go for a walk. The MIA is alwaysfree, and the Walker is free oftenenough. Better yet, walk to theWalker, stop off at any of thegreat cafes on Hennepin for atreat, and sketch your favoritepieces from memory. That’s fiveout of five sensesplus nature andphysical activity, itworks for almostall ages, and you’llprobably get somelaughter in thereas well. Imaginewhat your brainwill do with that.Speaking of thebrain, creativity iswhat primes thepump for newthoughts and feel-ings. Doing some-thing unexpectedor for the first timeactually causessomething tophysically happenin your brain. Itmakes connectionsbetween thoughtsand might evenbring clarity to oldideas.Try setting a goalof having intentional play at leastonce per week. Make it a chal-lenge to incorporate your senses,nature, and movement. Yourrelationships (and your brain)will thank you.
Dr. Liz Vogt is a clinical psy- chologist who lives and worksin CARAG. She sees kids, teens, and young adults, and specializesin anxiety, autism, and personal growth. She also coaches parents in creative play.
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By Melissa Slachetka
“Thanks to all the writers, read-ers, and neighbors in Uptown formaking my last year as Editorof the Uptown NeighborhoodNews a success!”to slip into trying to entertainthem for hours on end. Thank-fully, really good play is almostalways free or low-cost, thoughit sometimes takes a little moreplanning. As for monotony, it iseasy to dread playing Candylandfor 2 hours, and while a glassof wine is a lovely thing, if thatis our only way of shifting ourthoughts away from work andrelieving tension,we’re in a bit of arut.Here are some hall-marks of good play:1) the people doingthe play are into itand it makes themfeel something, 2)it involves as manyof the 5 senses aspossible, includinga little nature andphysical activity forgood measure, and3), it is creative.Emotion is one of the primary orga-niers of the brain.Think of yourstrongest memo-ries: they almostalways are associ-ated with a positiveor negative emo-tional experience.Even memoriesassociated withsmells are rooted in emotion.Whether or not you enjoy thesmell of snickerdoodles that hap-pens to remind you of Grandmais undoubtedly connected tohow you felt about her. One of the side benefits of play is thatit facilitates great memories thatincrease our bonds with ourloved ones, which promotes rela-tional resilience and the abilityto weather harder times in thefuture. All relationships need theglue of play.
“Doing somethingunexpected or for the first time actually causes something to physically happen in your brain.”
- DR. LIz VOGT