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Grown-up Recess – the Best Part of the Day

August 28, 2018

When was the last time you had a chance to play? Was it hanging out with some friends back in the third grade? Or were you younger and visited a park with other toddlers digging in the sand? Years of research supports the fact that children need play for many reasons including their social, emotional, and cognitive development as well as for their overall well-being.

All that playing as a child helps develop articulate, well-balanced, socially savvy, evolved adults. This makes for more desirable employees as these skills are highly valued in the workplace. It would stand to reason that engaging in playtime as adults could have many benefits. Why then, does it seem most adults have forgotten how to play?

There are many different ways to incorporate “play” back into your life. The key is to find something you enjoy, makes you happy, and feels like a “want to” rather than a “have to.” When you look at it that way, “playing” as an adult can take many forms. Physical activity causes your body to release endorphins that make you feel better. It can also help to keep you physically fit by managing your weight and blood pressure. So activities like skiing, playing in a basketball or softball league or riding your bike to work can take you back to what it was like when you were a kid.

Maybe for you, playing doesn’t involve a physical activity but instead it’s a weekly game night, cooking a special meal, or reading a book. Whatever you decide “playing” means to you, commit to it and do it regularly. It will make you healthier (mentally and/or physically) and can help you in your career.

Dr. Bowen White, of the National Institute for Play, a nonprofit that seeks to “discover all that play has to teach us about transforming our world”, asserts that if you can find a way to make your job more fun, you will be more productive. Companies like Google and LinkedIn learned this a long time ago when they put ping pong and foosball tables in their office spaces.

According to an Inc Magazine article there are five key reasons that companies should consider incorporating some form of regular “playtime” into their employees workday:

    1. Play improves cognitive function – From Sudoku to Scrabble to chess, playing games results inbetter problem-solving skills, greater retention of learned information, and enhanced creativity and imaginative thinking.”
    2. Play increases productivity – Regular breaks and “free play” make employees more productive. Conversely not taking a break can result in decreased work performance.
    3. Play enhances talent acquisition – Millennial workers are expected to make up roughly 75 percent of the global workplace by 2025 and they seek out workplaces that promote fun at work.
    4. Play reduces stress and burnout – “By allowing employees opportunities to let go of stress and recharge, businesses can reduce absenteeism due to illness or burnout.”
    5. Play boosts workplace satisfaction – Playtime influences positive workplace relationships that can result in less stress and better collaboration.

So go ahead and spin that fidget spinner. Take a lunchtime stroll. Know that recess can be just as good as you remembered it was.