Creative Play Research
Creative play as a conscious Daily Practice ultimately helps break out of stagnant, stressful, and/or mundane routines.
This practice keeps our vitality alive and, in turn, fosters the following benefits:
1. Mindfulness in creative play opens up our mind to a more curious approach to our responsibilities, creating greater possibilities for discoveries through an otherwise habitual reflexive perception. We become a more mindful witness to our own creative phenomenon from moment to moment, thus, cultivating a more playful awareness of the way we move through the world of our experiences. This wonderful physical alteration of the brain is also acknowledged in the psychological concept of the 'Flow-state' phenomenon, coined from the in-depth research of Hungarian-American psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who believes that true happiness is found in moments where a human loses sense of time in the present engagement of an activity that provides equal parts challenge and relaxation-- what is often identified as play! Mihaly states, “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times... The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile (1990)." Creative play as a foreign activity in daily and weekly adult lives may be difficult, and quite challenging at first, but only because that individual is resisting it. Otherwise, once one enters the present moment with their entire focus on the activity of creative play, it can work wonders.
2. Creative experiences are healthy for brain development because when we play, our brain produces higher levels of growth factors that help neurons to create more connections, which in turn increase the complexity and size of the prefrontal cortex. This affects our memories and learning for self control in relation to predicting consequences of one’s actions, and capacities in focusing one’s attention on our surrounding environment. Creative Play as daily practice helps us to break out from stressful routines of habitually approached tasks in our lived experiences, which opens up a more curious, mind, and heart.
3. Becoming skilled at creative play is becoming more skilled at understanding brainfood. Learning is best through Play and it is no secret that as children grow, they continue to learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well! This is partly due to the state that our brain enters in the process of Play as it releases endorphins, which promote an overall sense of well-being. Therefore, the art of creative play helps us in developing a more playful nature, preparing us for stressful situations in any context. This helps us be more at ease in conversations, making new friends, and especially valuable when networking to form new collaborative relationships!
4. Creative play makes our work experiences more enjoyable if we can look at the work that we need to do as opportune exercises for the imagination. Creative Play in the imaginative practice explores ‘What If’ scenarios through divergent thinking within the exploration of many potential solutions. By engaging the creative side of our brain, we silence the “inner editor,” helping to see any given problem in a new light for new solutions. Learning a new task is easier when it’s joyfully engaging; free from stress, anxiety and self doubt. This cognitive process scientifically termed “transient hypofrontality”, which refers to a less engaged pre-frontal cortex, and allows us to take a break from over-analytical thinking processes including self-consciousness and self-talk, leading us into a more effortless information processing experience. Creative play integration practice into our schools and workplaces could literally change the way humans feel, interact, and work with each other over night! If there’s a will there’s a way.
The main objective in our 2021 Indiegogo campaign is to fuel an opportunity to become a model Play Coach for continuing creative learning for adults. From my research and years of experience teaching and fostering community creative play gatherings, I have learned that the 3 following qualities are imperative to foster creative confidence in my fellow brothers and sisters: 1). Encouragement and Guidance; 2). Thoughtful Methodology; and 3). Celebrating Creative Milestones of Self Expression.
Finally, this pilot program for the business start up of Studio Gnome may in turn eventually create more opportunities for me to train other adults to become Play Coaches in order to grow this beautiful movement! Please join me on my quest to help creative play become a more common-place practice in our weekly and daily values of optimum mental and physical health for more confident, creative, and ambitious adults.
Smithner N. (2011) Creative Play. In: Schonmann S. (eds) Key Concepts in Theatre/Drama Education. SensePublishers.
McCaslin, N. (2014). Creative drama in the classroom and beyond. Pearson.