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- Lindsay Braman, Lindsay Braman is a psychologist and mental health illustrator.
There are eight different adult play styles, and understanding yours can help increase your resilience to burnout, Braman writes. These play styles were developed by Stuart Brown, MD, founder of the National Institute for Play, and Braman thinks that understanding yours can help in a similar way as love languages, which "gave us a vocabulary to talk about and grow our capacity to give and receive love," she writes. "Locating, valuing, and giving ourselves permission to play are all keys to unlocking its power to make our rest more rejuvenating and our work more productive," she writes. While Dr. Brown makes the case that people fall into a distinct category, Braman argues that most folks she works with move between the different play styles below.
The 8 adult play styles
1. The Joker
"The Joker play style shows up in modern life as extroverts who love to entertain and make other people laugh," Braman writes.
2. The Kinesthetic
People with this style like to play through movement, whether it's sports, dance, or some other physical activity.
3. The Explorer
If you like to spend your free time, as Braman writes, "reading, traipsing through a forest looking for a particular bug or fern, or timing the perfect tide pool walk with the lowest tide of the month," then you may just be an Explorer type, which means you prefer to play through learning.
4. The Competitor
“Plays to win” defines this adult play style; but it's not just about winning for Competitors—it's about the pursuit of the trophy or award.
5. The Director
"Folks who enjoy playing in this way find the experience of organizing, arranging, and directing as intrinsically satisfying," Braman writes. Two examples she gives of this type of play are coaching Little League or organizing a church food drive.
6. The Creator
This play style is about appreciation, and those who embody it tend to spend time tracking down, obtaining, and building a collection of interesting and/or useful things.
7. The Storyteller
"People who play through storytelling are the folks who can see an ordinary situation and transform it into a fascinating narrative, weaving fact with imagination in a way that expends energy in a playful—and yet almost inevitably professionally useful—way," Braman writes. They enjoy telling and listening to stories.
8. The Collector
"Whether it’s a traditional artist who paints, sculpts, or draws or nontraditional creators like landscape contractors, model railroad builders, crafters, and even aquarium owners, people who delight in imagining new ideas and bringing them to life are all enjoying the play style of Creator," Braman writes.
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