Halloween. The one time of the year that lends itself to zany costumes, masks and wigs, when we dream of becoming someone else: a superhero, witch, princess or warrior, even if just for one day. But dressing up isn’t only for Halloween. The benefits of shedding your day-to-day appearance and donning a disguise, whether for a few minutes, an evening or even longer, are wide-reaching.

The game of “make believe” is important not only for growing imaginations, but also fundamental for language skills and cognitive development. It creates strong social bonds and teaches us how to quickly switch gears without losing our stride. The creative power of play has been hyped in the business world for the past few years and with good reason. Pretending helps develop and fine-tune skills we use as adults on a daily basis, like organization and self-regulation.

Playing dress-up also helps us understand things we can’t experience in real-life, such as events from a long time ago or a galaxy far away. We can explore “what if” without rules, limitations or scripts. Flexing our imaginations through make believe builds empathy too, transforming us to someone different, as we visit new worlds and gain unique perspectives.

Whether you’re a serious cosplayer or just enjoy dressing up to play with your kids, the impact of make-believe at any age is pretty amazing: more self confidence, greater self-awareness and the ability to walk yourself through any situation. At the end of the day, pretending is simply fun. It relieves stress, brings joy and gets us to think in different ways which can spark creativity and boost problem solving abilities.