Play it again

Play it again

July 5, 2020 0 By Rick

I’ve written about the importance of keeping your inner child alive before, but now I want to focus on how essential it is for adults to learn to play again. That’s right. You read it correctly – play again. New findings have shown that adults who take time out to play are more creative, productive, healthier and happier. As children, we learn through playing, but as we age, we get caught up worrying about what others think about us. In today’s busy lives, the focus tends to be on work and family rather than plane old simple fun. Play is rejuvenating, but somewhere between childhood and adulthood we stopped doing it. Maybe it’s time to introduce an “adult recess” at the workplace?  Believe it or not, some big movers and shakers are spending their lunchbreaks playing games like kickball and hopscotch or maybe even coloring. What’s going on?

It’s playtime
You might be surprised (God I hope not) to find out that humans weren’t intended to crunch numbers, labor with statistics or wear uncomfortable clothing to the office on a full-time basis. No, humans need to be creative (not just the pesky Millennials), but it’s not so easy to find a way to spark creativity. Do you remember the old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” Well, that’s where playtime for adults comes in. When we play, we feel good and feeling good is good for us. Adult play is all about forgetting work and other commitments and socializing in a creative and unstructured manner.

Reducing cortisol
Playing reduces cortisol (a stress hormone), releases endorphins (a feel-good hormone), fights depression cuts the risk of developing dementia. If you want to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities and emotional well-being, try goofing off with friends, tossing a Frisbee around, dressing up on Halloween with your kids, building a snowman in the yard, playing fetch with a dog, acting out charades at a party or biking with no destination in mind. So, how do you get adults who’ve decided that they would rather work longer to get more money than play?

Serious stuff
One way to make people taking the concept of playing seriously would be to have them watch CEO Tim Brown’s TED talk. “We think playfulness helps us to get to better solutions. Helps us do our jobs better and helps us feel better when we do them.” Although Brown points out the benefits received from playing (learning, creativity, well-being and innovation), many adults poo-poo the idea of an adult recess. “But as kids learn to become adults,” continues Brown, “they become much more sensitive to the opinions of others, and they lose that freedom and they do start to become embarrassed. And in studies of kids playing, it’s been shown time after time that kids who feel secure, who are in a kind of trusted environment — they’re the ones that feel most free to play.” If only adults could lose that sense of embarrassment, they would up their game tremendously. Researchers claim that even doodling can help people remember important details better.

Google gets it
Many cutting edge businesses know that physical exercise and sports also improve productivity in the workplace. Look at Google, for example. Google has long recognized the link between productivity and a fun work environment, which is why their campus offers ping-pong, foosball and other fun games. Other companies offer art or yoga classes, host parties or encourage recess-like breaks for employees to play and let off steam. These companies understand that more play at work leads to greater productivity, higher job satisfaction, higher workplace morale and a decrease in staff turnover. Your work success depends on the quality of your work, not the amount of time you work. And guess what. The quality of your work depends to a great extent on your well-being.

Replenish yourself
Replenishing yourself through play can help you up your career game. The next time your project nosedives in a serious spiral, step back and have a few chuckles. When you stop to play, you take your mind off the problem and engage the creative side of your brain. You also put a gag on your inner editor and greatest critic. You know who I mean – the jerk that poo-poos your thoughts and ideas. And when that happens, you can see the problem in a new light and come up with creative solutions. Don’t allow a feeling of embarrassment keep you from adding a little playtime to your life. Give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose except your stress.