Western Michigan University - Holistic Health 5550

Holistic Approaches to Play Across Life Span

HOL 5550 Holistic Approaches to Play Across Life Span
Kay Caskey          (269) 569-4002
Laurie Young        (269) 569-5251
Credit Hours:

Course Description:

This course focuses on the holistic uses of cooperative play, celebration, leisure time, toys, and games as a way to promote mind/body health and wellness across the life span. Participants will learn how play is used to intellectually enhance new learning, increase creativity, solve problems, and provide motivation for intellectual engagement; emotionally improve effective coping, enhance relaxation, manage stress; and physically provide gentle exercise, and have fun both individually and with others.

Program Goals:

Along with getting more exercise and eating well, nearly every listing in the top ten ways to reduce stress and create a more balanced lifestyle includes making time for laughter and play. As employers become more concerned with productivity and world-wide competition, time for diversions and productive leisure gets shifted to the bottom of the priority list. When we do find leisure time, our western society emphasizes spectator sports that stress competition and winning for the few over active involvement of the many. Many Americans go from the desk to the couch year after year, believing erroneously that the TV will provide needed relaxation and stress reduction. Society greatly influences our holistic approaches and applications to the uses of play, celebration, and leisure time throughout the life span.

Major Topics of the Course:

  1. Overview/review basic principals of holistic health and explore the role of play.
    A.  Primary health risks in America.
    B.  Effects of stress on health.
    C.  Research ways to reduce stress.
    D.  Define holistic health and explore the effect of choices and lifestyle
         on physical, emotional, and intellectual well being.
  2. Our relationship to time and its influence on work and play.
    A.  Past, present, and future orientated societies and individuals.
    B.  Time and its relationship to stress and health.
         1. Time requirements or work; our measures of productivity.
         2. Time, health, and types of personalities.
    C.  Increases in stress caused by changes in American society.
         1. The unexpected decline of leisure time/changes in stress in the
             20th century.
         2. Comparison between the United States and other countries culture
             of pace and life and vacation times.
  3. Uses of play to increase physical well-being, intellectual functioning, and emotional happiness.
    A.  Physical
         1. Physical play and its role in feeling states.
         2. Active vs. passive activity.
         3. Playful activity and relationship to stress.
         4. Historical uses and functions of play across life span.
    B.  Emotional
         1. Uses of play and/or toys in meditation and relaxation.
         2. Research on the creative effects of "play with it" vs. "work on it".
         3. Uses of play to add humor and fun to our lives.
         4. Cooperation vs. competition; play as a bridge to community
    C.  Intellectual
         1. Whole brained activities that stimulate analytic and holistic
         2. Research on older people and brain functioning.
             - Uses of play to increase growth and dendrites.
         3. Play as a means to increase creativity and remain intellectually
             engaged; uses of play to increase life-long dendrite growth. 
             (Research has shown that the brain grows during activities that
             are new, "exotic", and that involve multiple senses).
  4. Play and its role in spirituality and celebration.
    A.  Historical uses of rituals, celebrations, and ceremonies.
    B.  Rituals, identity, and health.
  5. Play as a means to optimal experience.
    A.  Play in mindfulness and creating an absorbing activity.
    B.  Play, fun, and their relationship to happiness.
    C.  Play and "peak" experiences.
    D.  Play and states of consciousness.