The more time kids spend in front of screens, the less time they spend engaged in creative play…and the same is true for adults! Playtime isn’t just for kids…
I bet you were once a curious young explorer conquering the nearby woods and adventuring to the very top of the playground! As a child, playtime was when you connected with yourself and the world around you. Unfortunately, somewhere along the journey from childhood adventures to adulthood responsibilities, we lose the magic of play.
The topic of adult play is often overlooked or misunderstood. Those of us who are play advocates focus on bringing awareness to making sure our children are regularly engaging in playful behaviors in school and at home. For those who are not, you’ve certainly heard or read a news report about the current state of childhood. Our children need to play to efficiently process information, spark innovation and originality, inspire creativity, and sustain their overall health.
My question to you is: if these same benefits can be experienced when adults engage in play, why is there not a bigger emphasis on playing throughout the life course?
Play creates the foundation for a happy, balanced life in childhood and adulthood.
Play is energizing, refreshing, and a wonderful form of stress relief! You may be thinking “even for adults?” I’m here to tell you, “Yes! Especially for adults.” There’s no reason you should ever outgrow the need for play!
How will you play today?
What does it mean to be an adult?
My most recent awareness has been focused on what the role of adult really means and how play fits into adulthood. Think about these questions and be aware of them as you go through your daily routines. Remember, your adulthood is what you make of it! It’s okay to break out of expected roles and behaviors to engage in playful activities as an “adult.” Embrace the shift in perspective that will swing you toward a more balanced life.
Why does the role of an adult have to be a serious one?
Check out this Huffington Post article from Dr. Tian Dayton, “When Adults Play.”
When Adults Play
Play is defined by researchers as an activity that encourages positive emotions and allows people to complete high-order relational goals, such as getting to know each other, learning about each other or engaging in a mutual interest together, at a higher rate than expected . Play is accompanied by smiling and laughter, and should also allow participants to control their onset and their offset in the activity. In other words, play is not forced, it encourages autonomy, spontaneity and creativity. Friends or couples who play together report feeling greater intimacy and closeness. And this sense of closeness develops at a faster rate than normal.Play bonds those who engage in it and helps to shake off tensions and aggressions that might interfere with work or relationships.
Grown ups forget to play. But play, it turns out, is just as important for adults as it is for children.
Adults spend too little time at play according to research, and would benefit greatly from spending more time at it. In the workplace, for example, “adult play helps to alleviate boredom, release tensions, prevent aggression, and create workgroup solidarity,” says Norman C. H. Wong of the University of Hawaii . Play also facilitates organizational learning, creativity, community-building and cohesion, and overall, enhances adaptively and attentiveness.
Almost every species of animal engages in some form of play. Play helps all species, animal and human alike, to learn the adaptive behaviors that increase their chances of survival. Play performs two important functions.
- First, it allows both animals and humans a safe way in which to release aggressions.
- Second, it provides practice in behaviors that are typically associated with adulthood.
We all recognize child play, “you be the Mommy and I’ll be the Daddy; now you be the teacher and I’ll be your student.” Children are constantly slipping in and out of roles, releasing pent-up frustrations, becoming, for a moment, the admonishing authority or the nurturing, all-knowing parent. This gives them a chance to gain some relief from the confines and frustrations of their child roles, and at the same time practice at more mature roles.
Adults need “role relief” and “role variety” just as much as children do. Spending time in a balanced palate of roles allows the self several forms of expression, guards against “role fatigue” and provides “role relief” as well as practice taking on new roles. Getting stuck in one role, say that of “mom” or “worker” can reduce our sense of spontaneity and aliveness according to J.L Moreno, father of of the role play therapy known as psychodrama. Moreno, who wished to be remembered as the doctor who brought laughter into psychiatry, felt that people who are happy in their lives, tend to play a variety of roles that allow for rest, relief and rejuvenation. This playing of a variety of roles according to Moreno increases spontaneity and creativity. If, as Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living” Moreno’s psychodramatist wife Zerka says that……… “the unlived life, is not worth examining!”
TwoThousand&Twelve! I hope you left some room for play in your New Year’s resolutions! If you haven’t yet, take a few moments to think about how you can incorporate more playful behaviors and activities into this year. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you =)
Welcoming play into your daily life can be simple!
- Sing more often! In the shower, while cooking, driving, cleaning, etc.
- Bring a small toy for your desk at work (or for a co-workers desk)
- Take five minutes to Dance About It in the morning!
- Play “I Spy” with someone in line at the grocery store
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter and share your playtime with dogs who will also benefit
- Skip, don’t walk, to a meeting…you’ll be in a better mood when you get there
- Make funny faces using your dinner food
- Turn off the TV and do something outside! Climb a tree, skip stones, hike, explore, adventure!
- Visit a swingset and see how high you can get
Make a pledge to yourself to engage in play-full behaviors and activities this new year! Play is not a luxury, it is invaluable to our health and well-being!
“All Work and No Play? There’s A Better Way.” Posted 12/15/11
What adjectives come to mind when thinking about play? Some common responses may be: fun, imaginative, enchanting, elusive, and creative. What if I were to tell you that when play is incorporated into the workplace, it could also be described as: productive, healthy, innovative, and profitable? By shifting our business model to one that embraces play, we can revitalize the work environment, decrease stress, and promote fresh creativity and job satisfaction! Here are just some of the benefits of promoting a playful workplace:
1) Play can increase productivity, innovation, and creativity.Incorporating play into the workplace produces valuable results. Risk taking, confidence in presenting novel ideas, and embracing unusual and fresh perspectives are common characteristics associated with play that are also integral to a successful work environment.
2) Play can increase job satisfaction, well-being, and strengthen social bonds. Employees experiencing positive emotions are more cooperative, more social, and perform better when faced with complex tasks. Encouraging play will increase employee happiness, and happier workers have been shown to be more productive.
3) Play can decrease absenteeism, stress, and health care costs.Allowing play not only shows employees that they are valued, it also helps them lead a more balanced life. The activity and stimulation involved in play lessens the stress of work, which leads to less illness and a more positive attitude.
Play in the workplace can manifest in various forms. Businesses that support play may allow a recess-like period where employees can explore creative outlets and pursue independent activities. These workplaces may also offer playful amenities like rock climbing walls, game rooms, or scooters for transportation. When an employer does not support play, employees who recognize the benefits it has on their performance and well-being can still find ways to incorporate it into their workday. Creating a more playful environment at work can be as easy as putting a toy on your desk!
With a paradigm shift in workplace views on play, we can change the way a meaningful and successful work experience is defined. The emphasis should not only be on monetary gain and economic success, but on leading balanced lives. Employees who are happier and healthier have been shown to perform better on the job… and play can be a catalyst for these advantages!
Play is productive… especially in the workplace! There is no reason you should ever outgrow the need for play.
The Summer 2011 issue of the American Journal of Play contains a wonderful article titled “Older-Adult Playfulness: An Innovative Construct and Measurement for Healthy Aging Research,” by Careen Yarna and Xinyi Qian!
Through using a previously developed Adult Playfulness Scale (The Adult Playfulness Scale, Glynn and Webster, 1992), the researchers created a valid and reliable measure of playfulness in older adults. Research will continue in an upcoming article about the relationship between this behavior in older adults and healthy aging. The hope is not only to spread awareness of the significance and relevance adult playfulness has in our lives, but to also establish scientific credibility for studies of playfulness.
Few studies of adult playfulness exist, but limited research on older adults and playfulness suggests that playfulness in later life improves cognitive, emotional, social, and psychological functioning and healthy aging overall. Older adults represent a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, underscoring the need to understand the aging process. In this article, the authors report on the first three steps of a four-step, multimethod approach to test the hypothesis that playfulness is an important component of healthy aging in older adults. Step 1 determines the characteristics of older-adult playfulness, extending Barnett’s (2007) study of young-adult playfulness and recruiting participants from a different age group (older adults rather than younger adults). Based on findings from Step 1, in Step 2 the authors develop the Older Adult Playfulness (OAP) scale to measure playfulness in older adults. In Step 3, they validate the reliability of the OAP scale. A forthcoming manuscript will report on the relationship between older adult playfulness and healthy aging (Step 4). Key words: adult playfulness; child playfulness; Older-Adult Playfulness (OAP) scale; older adults
A new post will be here shortly! I’ve been working on another project recently for this blog…a guide to playing as an adult!
Stay tuned and keep playing!
Many of the factors involved with creative and successful functioning in the business world mirror the characteristics commonly associated with engaging in play! These include risk taking, confidence in presenting novel ideas, embracing unusual and fresh perspectives, and acting without consciousness of social approval.
“Creativity is the first step in innovation, and innovation is absolutely vital for long-term corporate success. The work environment within an organization can make the difference between the production of new, useful ideas for innovative business growth and the continuance of old, progressively less useful routines.” –Teresa Amabile
Encouraging play will increase creativity in the workplace, which will also boost innovation, productivity, morale, and job satisfaction. Each of these are factors that contribute to a more successful work environment! Try to find ways to incorporate a little playfulness into your workday each day, and notice any changes in your overall attitude or work ethic!
Remember…if you’re stuck on something, try taking a break from thinking about it and just play about it. You may surprise yourself with the answers you receive!