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PLAY to unlock your potential

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Want to hack your imagination, creativity, problem-solving, relationships or mental health? Make some time to PLAY!

Somewhere between childhood and being an adult, we stop playing. When we do take time off from work and clear our hectic schedules, we tend to watch tv or something similar. Even though we are busy with everyday responsibilities and schedules, it is important to carve out time for leisure — if not daily, then at least throughout the week. Research shows that being playful is a key way to get more out of life. In her book “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time,” one of the things Brigid Schulte examines is research about the science of play and why it’s what makes us more whole.

Just as you know play is so essential for children, it is as relevant and important for grown ups. Think of play as another tool for your wellness toolkit. Although play often happens spontaneously, planning time for play ensures that you do. We need time to unwind from our tight schedules and hectic lives. Sometimes just observing children at play and listening to their self-talk or conversations with their playmates can transport us into their imaginative world, and along with that, cause us to stop and enjoy the moment.

Some benefits of play:

  • Gets you out of your head and in the moment

  • Stress relief

  • Boost your endorphins to enhance wellness and relieve pain

  • Improve your cognitive abilities by challenging you brain

  • Play activities that engage with others enhance our social connections

  • Adults can learn through play by forming new neural pathways

  • New neural pathways allow us to keep our brains healthy and increase our neural plasticity

  • Increase your adaptability and ability to cope with change

  • Stimulate your imagination

  • Adopting a more playful outlook in life can also help you build rapport and connections at work and in life

So what could play look like?

An example that comes to mind for me is when we sit around the fire pit as a family on weekends. My niece and nephew always want to play, and the whole family gets sucked into a game of charades or wolf-wolfy-what's-the-time. We all get completely immersed in the imaginative and experiential side of the play and all worries are left far behind.

A daily chance to play for me is trying new things on my yoga mat, building a puzzle or playing with my pet. I actually started feeling more playful from consistently hanging out on my yoga wheel. I don’t know when I become so serious but I can feel a major shift in my overall wellness from it, in the most positive way. Sure yoga might not be your thing but what about social sports, just hanging out in the swimming pool or board games? Carve out some time this weekend, make some space for it and play a little!

If we let it, play can transform our attitude and allow us to enjoy life more fully. There is a saying that play is a child’s work. But that can be true for adults as well. To that point, many companies are encouraging employees to incorporate mental breaks and physical activities into their workday, providing opportunities for them to take care of themselves and play.

As a leader or decision maker in an organization play becomes a cultural issue. If you’re anything like most of my clients, play is not a focal point on the agenda. We want triple bottom line. But it might surprise you that play could be your intervening variable. As a leader you need to make play part of your culture and create opportunities for co-workers to engage in play like activities on a regular basis, especially if your industry requires creative, adaptable humans who can solve complex problems (so like everyone?).

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

George Bernard Shaw

Best wishes,

Jessica I The Humble Humanologist

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