It is a mistake that many people make, especially as they get older, to lose the sense of play.
Having fun without any other reason but to enjoy yourself can be hugely beneficial for someone’s health and well-being. With the focus of the modern world to meet deadlines and have a return on investment from anything from hobbies to leisure time, the ability to free one’s mind is all but lost.
It can be an additional stress to have to think of how you are justifying your every minute of every hour. There is enough distraction from the important things in life without restricting the idea that it can be fund to just ‘have fun’.
This doesn’t mean following a completely hedonistic lifestyle where there is no responsibility or sense of a higher purpose. Taking time to simply enjoy playing a game without needing to be highly competitive or as a means to advance in a skillset can be extremely liberating.
Has there been a shift away from the idea that playing games is a waste of time?
Playing for the sake of play
As a result of the Covid19 lockdowns, there was more time spent at home and the restrictions of travel allowed people the chance to explore games and pastimes that had no ulterior motive than to be enjoyed.
Suddenly there was a huge uptake in games such as jigsaw puzzles, board games, card games, billiards and snooker as well as simple outdoor activities like skipping.
The idea of staying mentally active and staying off technology for a longer period grew in popularity.
With both adults and children spending their work and school days online, the need for a break from screen time was important.
There was a growth in different leisure industries that could not predict the uptake in their specialised field, and some were caught out in their ability to meet demand.
One such industry was the increase in orders for the so called ‘big ticket items’ like the custom pool tables Melbourne residents were calling for.
Along with the demand for billiard and pool tables, came the requests for related products like:
- billiard table lights
- Table covers
- Pool cue repair kits
- Even bar stools and seats
With the need for making more of leisure time came the rise in other fun activities.
The joy of dressing up
With people spending hours on online meetings and seeing themselves and colleagues and clients every day in the same setting, there was the idea of making more of that onscreen interaction.
Things like Friday after work drinks and dress-ups were a way to help people feel better connected and alleviate some of the mental health issues such as isolation.
One such activity was dressing up under the boundaries of a theme.
This is when people wearing more and more outlandish outfits became all the craze. This included everything from wigs, tiaras, crowns and coloured contacts.
The simple fun of dressing up and enjoying the chance to put together an outfit or costume has endured long after the lockdowns were lifted.
Why playtime plays an important role
Just as play is important for children and the benefits it brings in the form of:
- and social skills
There are also the advantages of increasing their emotional well-being.
These benefits that children enjoy are not isolated for people in their younger years.
Play for adults is a simple and yet important way to relieve stress.
The act of play has been scientifically proven to improve brain function and release endorphins and help adults re-energise. This is particularly important with spending many hours in a sedentary position in front of a computer screen.
The chance to encourage creativity and the ability to ‘think outside the box’.
This can help with an increase in work participation and build a supportive team environment. It is a strong incentive for staff to contribute to group discussions and offer ideas without the fear of judgement.
This is where play has a vital role in the work setting, especially when employees are performing their duties in an isolated environment in working from home.
Breaking free from restrictions
With the breakneck speed of work communication and the increase in workload hours as seen by the extended time people are working, there is a higher chance of burnout.
This is when destressing and relaxing becomes a top priority and one that should be encouraged by the employer.
It has been shown time and again that less working hours can actually improve productivity and lead to a higher rate of staff retention as well as less sick leave being taken.
Learning new skills is not always as easy as it should be or is expected. Incorporating elements of play can increase the ability to learn, develop and nurture the learning process.
There will often be a direct correlation between play and the ability to retain knowledge. Rather than be a distraction from mental focus, adult play in particular can help reset the mindset and allow for a better focus on the tasks required.
Those play activities which are low impact and need a minimal amount of mental effort are the best forms of re-energising and rejuvenating someone’s concentration.
Work and play are the best partners
While the days of thinking that work hours are purely for work and completing projects, there is ample evidence that allowing the workforce to indulge in set times of play can increase the work output and improve the standard of that work.
It could seem strange or counterintuitive to promote the use of puzzles, games or dressing up in a complete costume, but that wig, outfit and a pair of coloured contact lenses may prove to be a great investment.
Allowing your staff to enjoy their downtime, promote a stronger team sharing atmosphere and benefit from the chance to share a laugh and good-natured play is one of the best assets you have at your disposal.
Work and play are good for morale, health and well-being and good for business.