Play to Work

Remember the feeling as a kid when you’d go out for recess and forget about schoolwork for a few minutes? When your one and only focus was on playing tag, swinging, or shooting some hoops? Man, those were the days….

We all used our adolescent imagination to make *anytime* playtime.

Why? Because playtime for kids is mandatory! It enhances creativity and encourages free thinking.

>>We as adults need to be taking notes from our younger selves.<<

>>After all, we are all wired to PLAY!<<

According to Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and founder of the National Institute of Play, there are seven properties that describe play:

  1. Purposeless (done for its own sake)

  2. Voluntary (entered into freely)

  3. Inherent attraction (we naturally want to do it)

  4. Freedom from time (focus on the present moment)

  5. Diminished consciousness of self (we aren’t thinking about ourselves)

  6. Improvisational potential (allows space for imagination)

  7. Continuation desire (makes us want to keep doing it)

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We all struggle with this nowadays, kids and adults alike. It comes as no surprise that creativity in children has been decreasing since 1990; the primary cause being the use of the Internet. Kids need time to let their minds replenish, rather than being constantly stimulated. As we grow older, these rules still apply!

According to Brené Brown (who just so happens to be one of my favorite researchers of all time), the main barrier for adults in North America being able to rest and play is twofold: exhaustion has become a status symbol and productivity has become a symbol of self-worth.

In this study, she stated that the act of playing and enjoying ourselves is often considered lazy, unproductive, and petty. She also points out that words like “busy” have become a badge of honor.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love maximizing my efficiency and getting as much work done as possible in a short amount of time, but I’ve also learned when my brain needs a break so I can actually get more done. 

You read that correctly. Taking a break from work actually helps me get more work done. Crazy, right?! 

>>I’m a HUGE believer that adults should not only make time for play just to have fun and enjoy themselves, but to also get more work done in the long run.<< 

It’s essential to listen to your body and play (or take mental time-outs) in order to show up and be the best you can be in everything that you do. Playing with your partner builds a connection. Playing after work keeps your productivity and creativity flowing.

Learn to remove yourself from technology for a bit, and you’ll be surprised at how much more productive and innovative you’ll be when you’re in front of a screen later!

Now here’s the kicker, dude... According to Brené Brown (told you I was obsessed), play for adults has to be active. Simply put, watching TV doesn’t count! That’s an example of a passive form of entertainment.

>>In order to really get the maximum benefits of play, the key is to LET GO.<<

Do something with your hands, like painting or drawing. Get your body moving in a yoga class or go on a hike.  

What links all of these activities together is that they are enjoyable, NOT a punishment. It doesn’t matter if you do these things alone or in a group; nor does it matter how good you are. The act of playing and letting go is what counts.

Many Americans are on the path of burnout, which can lead to depression or other diseases. If you’re like me and you feel like you always need to be doing something, I suggest that you learn to make rest and play a priority.

>>It’s time to value our health and our minds, so go out and play today!<<

Side note: I highly recommend downloading the Audible series by Brené Brown called The Power of Vulnerability and getting her hardcover book titled The Gifts of Imperfection. She’s an amazing researcher and offers some great insight into the importance of letting go.