October 3, 2022

7 ideas to add play to your life

Incorporate play in your everyday life if you want to be happier, be more creative, focused during work and less stressed overall. Time spent playing is time well spent.

When you were a child, what were your favorite ways to play?

Take a moment and think about that. Write a few things down if you can. Now just observe your feelings. Are you feeling happier?

My guess it’s yes. Because even the memories of you playing bring you joy. Reminiscing about a happy moment has the power to bring joy to the present moment.

Ever thought that you don’t have time for play anymore (you’re an adult with responsibilities after all), that play is for kids or even that you wouldn’t know where to start? Well, you are not alone. But that fact that you are here, means that you have found a way to start. Let us tackle the other two points. 

  1. Time it’s limited. Fortunately or unfortunately we all have 24 hours per day so as with everything it comes down to prioritization. If your agenda always fills up, set aside some time for play. Book the time to play. 
  2. While play is “the work of childhood”, incorporating play into our adult life has a long list of benefits:
  • Increases our focus during work. Yes, you read that right. A little play actually helps you increase your attention and concentration during work. Remember your school breaks? Make sure you keep taking those breaks if you want to be at your best when you are working. 
  • Improves stress management. Ever seen a kid stressed while playing? Play releases endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals and the best antidote for stress. Had a bad day? Forget dropping on the couch and binge- watching Netflix. Take 30 minutes and just play. 
  • Helps us be more creative. Nothing like exploration, experimentation, imagination and curiosity to create more room for creativity. Let your thoughts wander. 
  • Playing with others makes us more empathetic. That’s effectively how we build our initial relationships. We become friends with the people that play with and like us. Bringing play into your relationships, be it a romantic relationship, a friendship or a work colleague, will improve it.
  • Play is the easiest way to burn calories. Physical activity is not only bringing you joy but can add the extra physical activity to keep you fit. Most of us spend way too much time sitting (remember we are not designed to spend our days sitting). So next time when an occasion presents itself, get off your chair and play a little. 
  • Play makes us smarter. A 2009 study in the Journal of School Health found that the more physical activity tests students can pass, the more likely they are to do well on academic tests. So why not play a little?

So tell me, nowadays, what are your favorite ways to play?

Take a moment and think about that. Feeling lost? Let’s first find out what type of “play personality” do you have? 

Now that we understand the benefits of play in our adult life, we know what type of play personality is more prominent, let’s do a little “playstorming” on specific activities that can be easily incorporated into your everyday life:

  1. Board games. A classic, yes, but you can go from playing the board games you used to when you were younger, to exploring the incredible offering of new and innovative board games. Don’t know what to gift your friend/partner/colleague? Do a little research on highly rated board games and throw one in your cart.There is one for every type of player.
  2. Rescue and/or adapt activities you enjoyed as a kid. Nothing like a childhood game to teletransport yourself to those moments where play was the “work” of the day, every day. Pick a few that suit you and get ready to play and smile. 
  3. Find a physical activity you can enjoy. Try not to attach any goal to it. Think of games you were playing as a kid. Feel like climbing a tree or playing dodgeball? Find a place nearby and organize a day of climbing or just get a ball and some friends together and spend a couple of hours playing dodgeball. You will feel great afterwards.
  4. Online games. Needless to say, this market has exploded. If this is your thing, go for it. Find a game that allows you to disconnect or engages your brain. Keep it social when possible. It does feel that even online games are more fun when you play with other people. 
  5. Want to get a bit more crafty? Lego or Play-Doh are good options. Let your imagination take over. These are great options for lighthearted or whimsical players. The sky is the limit. 
  6. Puzzles, cards or coloring books. Puzzles are a great activity to do alone or with someone else. Do you remember the last time you picked up a deck of cards? Start with a simple game of cards and bring back the card games that can keep us engaged for hours. Most of us used to color when we were kids. Why not bring it back? Coloring it’s a relaxing and absorbing activity. These are all very much suited as intellectual activities. 
  7. Have kids or pets around you in the family or neighborhood? Spend some time goofing around. Let the kid take the lead in the play and just follow along. Let go of judgements and just play. Pets are equally a great option for some fun, so don’t hesitate. 

As adults, we exhaust ourselves with the things we should do rather than the things we want to do, the things that bring us joy. We have to, right? We are adults, we have responsibilities. In reality, that’s our biggest mistake. Every time you find yourself saying “I should” or “I shouldn’t”, think again. Maybe you just think it is.

Let go of all preconceptions around playtime and make sure you incorporate it in your everyday life if you want to be happier, be more creative, focused during work and less stressed overall. Time spent playing is time well spent. 

Play helps us do serious things better. 

Written by Andreea Pap

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