Why adults need play too

No-one would disagree that play is an important part of children’s development. Why, though, is it not viewed in the same way when we reach adulthood?

In this article you will learn:

  • What play is
  • How play creates community
  • Why adults should prioritise play at work

Play, according to Dr Stuart Brown of the National Institute for Play, “play is something done for its own sake”. He explains: “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

1. Play helps create community

In a world where community is hard to come by, play can help you to find a group of like-minded people.  David Kaye, who founded a gaming group called SF Games, which focuses on German-style games, told NPR that the inclusive style of the games has helped to create “this incredible community over the years”.

And that’s backed up by research, which shows that playing helps adults maintain their social wellbeing – not just through board games, but through football or paintball, or even team-building exercises in the office.

Read: How much play should we have in our lives?

2. Play reduces stress and burn out

Perhaps unsurprisingly, play has been found to reduce stress in the workplace – something that more than half of Americans have experienced. In fact, a study by the University of Central Florida found that video games at work can significantly reduce stress at work.

Researchers asked participants to perform a computer-based task, with a five minute break – during which they would either play a video game, perform a guided relaxation activity or sit quietly in the room without a phone or computer. Interestingly, they found that only those who played the video game reported that they felt better after the break.

“We often try to power through the day to get more work finished, which might not be as effective as taking some time to detach for a few minutes,” said Michael Rupp, a doctoral student who led the study. “People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge.”

Time to download Candy Crush on your phone again then.

3. Play makes us more engaged at work

Some might argue that you’re in the office to do one thing: your job. But actually, research by BrightHR found that employees who have fun at work are less likely to have time off sick, and more likely to feel creative at work and committed to their organisation.

Another study from the University of Warwick had similar results. Researchers there found a 12 per cent spike in productivity among happy workers – and a 10 per cent drop among unhappy workers.

So if you’re leading a business and want your staff to be more productive – find out how they could be happier.

Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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