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Find joy in play this world mental health day

We used to look forward to the time after Covid; now we’re not so sure as we face the global repercussions of mental fatigue fallout which will last way beyond the pandemic. Even with a possible end in sight in some parts of the world, much of our joy has been worn down over the past 18 months.

We’ve been separated from those we love, we’ve been restricted in social and emotional activities, we’ve lost jobs, opportunities and loved ones, and now a further epidemic of isolation, loss and battered weariness looms on the horizon.

So where can we turn to find joy in life?

Here at CreateCATT we advocate that playfulness has something pretty amazing to add to our survival mix.

As our minds go round in circles and the past two years lead us to despair, let’s look at how children make meaning of life, and re-engage with the playfulness we may have left behind as we grew older.

Play isn’t about finding answers. It’s about being in the moment with joy.

When we engage our bodies in playfulness we change our physiology. Try it. Play tag or hide-and-seek, climb a tree, swing or dance, and see how you feel afterwards. A sense of release, a flood of joy, even an experience of being OK with losing at something. A moment of being in the body with joy will build resilience. More than just a distraction from worries, play reminds us there is hope.

Create something with your hands. Do an artwork. It doesn’t need to be ‘good’ it just needs to happen. Mix up some slime, mould something with clay, glue cardboard together. Using our hands and focusing on creation calms our neurobiology. It strengthens our head-heart-hands connection, bringing us into the present and giving a sense of wellbeing and control in the moment. It’s a central process used in therapeutic work which has profound effects on bodies and minds, helping us to feel better and to process embodied traumas that are too difficu

A focus on relationships, attachment and safety is a foundation of our Developmental Play model, simply because positive relationships are fundamental for wellbeing, too. We are social beings and what many of us have missed most this past two years is group activities, attending community events where we feel we belong, being with our tribe. We need to sing, dance, shout, hug, and recreate a sense of community.

CreateCATT is calling for play-fests, mess-fests, danceathons and games marathons after Covid. We need to socially reconnect and belong with our tribe.

Finally, we need to get out into Nature and reconnect with our beautiful world that has such potential to heal us. Being in greenery releases serotonin, the happiness hormone, which balances out cortisol, the stress hormone. Nature helps us relax and floods us with joy in a gentle, affirmative way. Just looking at Nature helps us make sense of complexity and soothes battered spirits.

Children make sense of their world through preverbal play, and so can we. Children show us how play is a way to re-engage with a world we’ve lost trust in. Children emerge from challenges, trauma and abuse through playfulness; let’s try it for ourselves. We, too, can reignite joy through the power of play.

CreateCATT believes that play gives us and our children the best start in life for the best chance in life - to find out more about our model, our academy and our global resources visit

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