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Why You Should Incorporate PLAY into Your Workday

Incorporate Play into Your Workday

Well, isn’t this a fun topic… Do you see what I did there? LOL, I’m such a comedian! But, on a serious note, I’m so pumped about this topic. How to incorporate play into your workday is a topic that’s been trending lately. More and more employers are seeing the benefits of treating their employees to a little bit of “playtime.” Obviously, I’m not writing this piece as an instructional guide to CEO’s everywhere. This is more of a “how to” guide that refers to you incorporating play into your workday. Because, as always, we’re talking bout being intentional with our time and energy. And if you value the time in your workday like you do the rest of your time, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a corporate baddie, incorporating play into your workday could be a game-changer.

But what does “play” really mean when it comes to talking about adults in a workplace? How do we, in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, define play as an adult? Well, let’s think about this. As a kid, play means recess. It means outside time, playing with our friends, and usually getting a little dirty. In our teens, it means tech time, playing games on our phones, computers, or gaming consoles. But as adults, play can be hard to define. We often confuse play with relaxation time because we feel like we don’t have time for both. But guess what, we do! Play is something different than sitting on our couch relaxing. It’s getting outside and doing a fun activity with your friends, like going to a class, playing in an escape room, or going bowling. But now you’re thinking, how do I do those things during the workday?

Why You Need to Incorporate Play into Your Workday

Obviously, we’re not going to pause our workday for three hours to go mini-golfing. But what we can do is something small that still gives us the effect of being removed from work for just a moment that makes us feel happy and playful. Making time, even just once a day, for play can be critical to your mindset, energy, and performance throughout your workday. It’s not just the act of “playing” itself that brings the benefits. When you make time for play, you’re also making time to actively remove yourself from your work for a moment and shift what your mind is thinking of, and this is where intentionality really plays a role.

How Play Acts as a Pattern Interrupt

The time you set aside for “play” should come when you most need it. The moments you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed are the perfect opportunity for you to remove yourself from the situation and shift what your mind is thinking about. Studies have shown that by displacing your thought process and moving your attention onto something else, it will immediately relieve any anxiety or stress you may be facing. Our time for play is a pattern interrupt to moments of high stress. When we’re really stressed out or overwhelmed at work, our critical thinking skills don’t work as well, which is why we’re often confused as to how to find a solution.

But, by removing yourself from the situation and say, dancing around your office to your favorite song, doing thirty jumping jacks, or playing Angry Birds on your phone, you’re shifting your thoughts from high stress to a new focus. This is a highly effective way of alleviating stress. And what your mind is doing behind the scenes is actually pretty amazing. As you’re performing your “play,” your subconscious mind is filling through the data of the stressful situation and compiling ways to resolve it. So once you’re ready to sit back down at your desk, those endorphins you built up take the place of the stress, and your critical thinking skills are back up and running.

How “Play every day” will affect your mindset long term

As someone who utilizes this intentional resource quite often, I know that the long-term effects of using play as a pattern interrupt are incredible. It’s easy to let yourself get lost in the stress of something. A deadline approaching, an issue you don’t know how to solve, etc. It can all feel very overwhelming. But that stress is triggered by your same response to danger. The moment we feel stressed about our jobs, our fight or flight kicks in along with its good friend, self-doubt. We question our ability to find a resolution and perform, so our immediate response is to freak out. But our fight or flight, in this case, is a trigger response that can easily be resolved by re-training our mind to replace stress with play

I used to be an incredibly high-anxiety person. It’s something I struggled with for years from the amount of trauma I went through in such a short period of time. But, as I began my intentional living journey, and as I began incorporating play into my life, my stress started to simmer. Every time a moment of stress ops up at work, I use my pattern interrupting “play time,” to redirect that energy to something that will actually serve me. I thank my fight or flight for taking care of me, and I tell myself to breathe because I know I can figure this out.

Xo,  lauren

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