At a school as academically intense and pre-professionally focused as Northwestern, it can sometimes feel impossible to find time for unstructured fun. It may often get overlooked, but incorporating play, leisure, and laughter into a daily or weekly routine is one of the best things a person can do for their mental and physical well-being.
This May, as academic and professional stress begins to mount on students, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicating time to encourage playfulness at Northwestern. On May 9 from 12–3 p.m., Northwestern’s first ever Play Day will bring pizza, games, finger painting, and giant bubbles to Deering Meadow. The goal isn’t just to provide a few hours of relaxation for students from the grind of the school year — it’s to encourage them to find the time to incorporate playfulness into their everyday life through the rest of Playfulness Month and beyond.
The health benefits of play have been documented by numerous scientific studies. Adults who are regularly in a state of play have been shown to exhibit more frequent laughter, decreased stress, and better vascular health. Beyond that, play helps people approach personal and professional problems with higher levels of creativity — a quality that is vitally important in college and beyond.
CAPS and Mental Health America recognize May as National Mental Health Month. This year, CAPS hopes that by emphasizing playfulness, the Northwestern community can improve their relaxation, creativity, and overall mental well-being. For more information, check out the CAPS website.