Play matters not just for kids but for people of all ages. Play is crucial for children to help them develop and improve their communication and social skills, while teaching them about cooperation and teamwork. Adults need to take an occasional break, unwind from work responsibilities or schoolwork and have fun in the same boundless, creative way children do. Play can be an essential source of pleasure, relaxation, renewal and learning for grown-ups, in both our personal lives and in our workplace. The National Institute for Play says that play can dramatically transform our personal health, our relationships, the education we provide our children and the capacity of our corporations to innovate. Play, especially for employees during the workday, can bring numerous benefits to a business.
Benefits of Play for Adults and Workers
Research has shown that when we do not take time out for play, we do not give our best at home or at work. The importance of play for adults in the work environment, according to many studies, is its positive effect on the mental and physical well-being of employees. One important outcome of having fun at work is that play not only can increase productivity, it can enhance it. Stepping away from the phone, computer and work tasks a few times each workday and interacting in a friendly and socially appropriate way with co-workers encourages teamwork, helps employees see problems in a new way and can generate fresh, creative solutions. Feeling happy and healthy helps workers become more self-confident, self-aware and productive. The importance of play for adults during a day at the office can also lead to other benefits, including:
- Lowering stress. Having fun calms and soothes both body and soul. A little play time can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood-boosting chemicals that reduce stress, relieve pain and enhance pleasure. Endorphins promote a positive feeling in the body and can be triggered in a variety of ways, including laughter. Finding more reasons to laugh during the day will add joy and happiness to every aspect of our lives.
- Increasing energy and brain function. Letting off steam at work — whether through friendly games, exercise classes, potluck lunches or office outings to fun, stimulating events — provides refreshment and prevents burnout. Play time also engages the brain, keeping it sharp and helping ward off memory problems.
- Building relationships. Play automatically improves interaction and social skills with others, whether a spouse, child or colleague. Playing together promotes collaboration and teamwork and promotes a sense of belonging and community. Additionally, building bonds at work can create a good foundation for conducting business with clients and other stakeholders.
- Boosting innovation and creativity at work. Play stimulates parts of the brain that are not engaged during normal work activities. You can learn a new task better when it is fun and you are in a happy, playful mood. A playful atmosphere can stimulate your imagination and help you find new ways to solve problems. Increasing your creativity at work can make your job not only more pleasurable but can enhance your contributions to your company.
Taking time to play at home, at school or at work may be just the ticket to a happier, healthier life. Learn to play more and surround yourself with playful people.