RE-SET - TORONTO: pop-up playground

I'm not the only one who's developed a thick lockdown shell, right? Even now we are all slowly getting back to normal life (whatever that looks like), most of us are still holding the weight of the previous 18 months on our shoulders.

What might also have come as a shock to us, is that we've lost some of our ability to practice good levels of self-care, relax, and just be around a group of others. We adapted to prolonged isolation, and we've got no clue how to get back to 'how we used to be.'

Back when Toronto first came out of lockdown, I attended a pop-up playground – not for kids, but for adults. Ran by a non-profit, these playgrounds are dotted all around Toronto up until mid-September 2021. Tickets are priced on a sliding scale, so don't worry if you're stuck for money at the moment – you can still experience the joy!

Reset, the company behind the playgrounds, say that:

Many of us know that play is important, but maybe we just don't remember how. And that’s okay – we got you! In fact, the Pop-Up Playground was made just for you.

It's like a guided meditation, but you'll be guided outwards rather than inwards and prompted to play with other people in a way that feels safe and intentionally designed for connection between strangers.

What makes them so great?

When I arrived at the playground, initially I was feeling shy and unsure about being in a crowd of strangers. But after a little while, I realised it felt undeniably good to be in a group of friendly people connecting in a low-pressure, relaxed way. Something that I didn't realise I'd missed until I experienced it again.

After a very long period of disconnect, the Playground is designed to foster those connections we've all been craving. Each experience lasts 45 minutes, and you'll be around 8–12 other participants, taking part in activities that involve a pair of headphones and following prompts! It's the good kind of silly.

The science

Adult play isn't all, well, play. There's extensive research to back up its benefits, such as this study showing that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex, which is involved in sight, hearing, smell, and sensation, and controls higher functions such as speech, thinking, and memory. Unsurprisingly, play also releases endorphins, stimulates creativity, and improves our ability to deal with stress.

Laughing and having fun with others also does wonders for us socially – it helps foster compassion, intimacy, and developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations.

Adult play is an outlet that many of us likely don't prioritize in our busy lives. But making time to do something we truly enjoy and letting our inner child take control, will translate into a higher level of happiness and overall satisfaction within all areas of life.

Have you made time for play recently? What does that look like for you? 

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