Living a playful life can boost your mood, make you feel more connected to those around you, and relieve tension. Joanna Fortune, psychotherapist and expert in play, joined Dearbhail McDonald on the Brendan O'Connor show to explain. Listen back above.

For many of us, our weeks seem to get busier and busier, and finding time to relax - never mind play - can be a challenge. Our days become defined by what we have to do and how much we manage to get done.

"Being busy has become almost an emotional statement", Fortune said. "If someone says, 'how are you?' the answer tends to be 'I'm busy', which is not really a feeling, but we tend to use that as 'that's who I am, that's how I am.'"

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As part of this, we remove play from our lives and tell ourselves that it's just for children. "It's actually a huge detriment to ourselves as adults because there are huge benefits for us to maintain a playful life, but at least a playful state of mind, or a playful way of being in how we negotiate the seriousness of life."

Fortune acknowledged, however, that keeping playfulness alive isn't possibly for all people at every stage in life, particularly if they have endured hardship and difficult moments. Part of her work looks at what 'play' meant to people in childhood: "I think that it can stir up huge amount in people."

So how can we embrace play? Fortune said each of us has different tendencies in how we approach play, from solo players, team players and more.

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"I think we're more playful, by the way, than we give ourselves credit for", she said. Pastimes like crosswords, Wordle and more are all examples of play.

Crucially, play is "something that sparks joy for you", that relaxes and challenges you slightly. Fortune stressed that you don't have to act the children's TV presenter to engage in play: "But if you want to do that, great, go for it!"

"We forget that a good old, authentic belly laugh is one of the best ways we have to release residual tension that we're holding in our body, and at a time when anxiety levels are rising and people are very stressed and anxious, we need to embrace laughter, frivolity and fun."

Being playful is also being curious, she added. "I think we have to give ourselves permission to not be so certain about everything, to hold an inquisitive stance about curiosity."

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Fortune said that a need for play can come up in easy to miss ways: "When you feel stuck in life, when you have that 'eh' feeling of, I'm feeling a bit stuck, things aren't coming together, I feel like I'm running to standstill, that's usually a sign that we've forgotten to play.

"It's about taking a break from that very cerebral, cognitive, up-in-your-head space and doing something else that can serve as a circuit breaker."

Engaging with the need for exploration can be a form of play, such as going on an adventure holiday or trying something new like kayaking.