Play On: Have Some Fun For Your Health

 
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By Hannah Woit

What did you enjoy doing as a child that you no longer do as an adult? Make sandcastles? Spend some quality time with a coloring book or whizzing through the air on a swing set? Play a pickup game of soccer with your friends? The things that come to mind are likely to be what we used to do as play--and unfortunately have become activities we do less and less frequently as we grow up.

However, research indicates that we may want to pick these activities back up if we want to live our happiest, healthiest lives.

Are You Playful?

“Playfulness” can reference a person’s tendency to approach situations in ways that entertain those around them and make them more engaging and fun.

Playfulness in adults is associated with:

Play at Work?

Just as more foosball tables are popping up in workspaces, researchers are conducting more studies around playfulness at work. You might assume that play at the office leads to decreased productivity or distraction, but some research indicates that “organizational playfulness” can make for a climate that is more conducive to creativity. How? Researchers posit that playfulness can make people feel more open and motivated, and to forge more relationships built on working together. It can also foster greater trust amongst team members.

Also, making meetings more playful can actually make them more productive because play can inject energy and increase engagement during an otherwise dull meeting.

Make Time for Play:

Been a long time since you set out to play? If you need inspiration, University of Wisconsin psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD suggests:

  • Game nights with friends

  • Play with pets or children

  • Arts and crafts

  • Playing in a physical group activity, such as tennis, Frisbee, or kickball

  • Doing something you enjoyed as a child

Mirgain also brings up scheduling time for play. However, don’t get too serious about it: play being voluntary is key. And it has to be something you enjoy (versus something other people tend to enjoy or something you think you’re supposed to enjoy).

Go on, get out there and have some fun!