Are You Playing Enough?

Sitting down to discuss food regimens with women is an inevitable part of the work I do. By this point, the client and I would have interacted a fair bit, and the relationship would be established between us. Because of the trust cultivated, we both bring our very vulnerable selves to the table.

And when the reality of the food regimen is about to become active in their routine, it almost brings them tears. It is as if the fun, creative, playful lightness associated with food and leisure is leaving the shores of one’s life. Forever. Never to come back again!

What exactly do we fear to lose in this context? Is it food? I want to talk about this.

One dominion factor comes to mind. Bollywood. Just how ubiquitous this Bollywood stuff has become! We even entertain our gods at our pandals with an offering from Bollywood. If not that, it’s still one of several ‘other-wood’-s!

Like Bollywood and ‘other-wood’ related activities that seem to take up time-space, food has come to define leisure for humans. We reach for food to relax, de-stress us, to uplift us, it is the main component of bonding experiences and more. Oh and, not to mention the dozens of food-related programs and entire channels dedicated to everything food.

A leading chocolate brand surveyed some years ago and declared with great pride, that a whopping 52% of women preferred chocolate over sex. Without a doubt, we’re allowing food to crowd out every other leisure activity we enjoyed as adults one time. So, in discussing the food regimen, it is no surprise that it feels so threatening.

Why food is not suited for leisure or as a play component is an important question you must ask yourself. But first, let’s see why play is essential to us as humans.

Diane Ackerman writes, ” for humans, play is a refuge from ordinary life, a sanctuary of the mind, where one is exempt from life’s customs, methods, and decrees.”

Playing is the most instinctive, play for play’s sake kind of activity there is. Playing is beyond just fun, and definitely beyond gender and age. Scholars have not arrived at any one specific definition of play. Still, they’ve agreed upon this – play is any solo or social activity with elements of anticipation, surprise, pleasure, understanding, strength, and poise.

Given just how play-deprived that modern societies are becoming, there are Play Health experts nowadays. In a hospital and/or clinical setting, these specialists design appropriate play activities for clients.

Like how we’ve come to painfully discover, the opposite of play is NOT work. It’s often some manifestation of depression, suicidal tendencies and addictive behavior towards the screen or cyber-loafing as it’s called, food and substance addiction, and so on. And play is believed to be the missing factor that could heal these people.

There are many benefits to play, and some of them are, developing
– a handle over one’s emotions
– perseverance
– resilience
– problem-solving skills
– boost in creativity

For a variety of reasons ( sometimes related to play pathology like isolation, bullying, etc.) we take to substituting play with food. Because food also shares some of the elements of play, such as pleasure and surprise – we resort to using food. This is alarming, to say the least. Food and eating as an activity that is steeped in purpose. But playing is entirely for its own sake, and food doesn’t lend itself to this type of treatment. But given that it is pleasurable is often misleading as a play activity.

We’ll continue this discussion in future posts. But for now, here’s what I’d like you to do – share below some of the leisure activities you’ve enjoyed so far this month. If by any chance, were these activities involving food, say that too.

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