Play offers a welcome escape from the chaos of our busy lives. It challenges us to reconnect with our inner child, the part of us that gets lost in the responsibilities of adulthood and is often never revisited. So if play improves children’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being, couldn’t it do the same for adults? It turns out it can, which is why many health professionals advocate for more fun.
“Children live in the moment. There doesn’t have to be a final goal, and they play for the sake of play. The truth is playing is being joyfully immersed in the moment. As adults, we rarely do that,” says Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, Professor of Developmental Psychology at New York University, in an interview with NBC News BETTER.
Play, as in Please Look After Yourself, is when we reframe movement and exercise as fun. It is the ultimate form of self–care because play improves overall health, and connects you with others, all while boosting happiness, excitement and la joie de vivre (a cheerful enjoyment of life.) It reduces anxiety and depression without needing a complicated fitness routine or meal plan. And when it comes to your work or business, you can easily integrate boss-approved movement into your schedule, which ultimately helps with creativity!
Who wouldn’t want that?
Here are seven ways to easily incorporate more play into your day:
1. Ditch your old stories.
Change what it means to “work out”. The idea of an hour “workout” was created because that’s how trainers/coaches get paid – by the hour. Being on a treadmill for an extended period to reach a specific goal, like training for a race, is understandable. But daily/365 is not optimal because it adds stress to our bodies. Instead, habitually taking the stairs at work while listening to your favourite tune or going on a lunch break walk will naturally help you get more fun movement into your day.
2. Reflect on your inner child.
What did you like to do as a child? Why did you give that up? We often forget about or ignore the things we used to enjoy because we tell ourselves that we don’t have time for it or it’s unproductive. If you work from home, find a way to incorporate those moments of play into your day. It could be banging on your drums for an intense 20 minutes, riding your bike to the store for a treat, or grabbing that old skipping rope. Heck, sidewalk chalk is a blast to create hopscotch on the driveway.
3. Get a dog.
A 2019 British study discovered that dog owners are nearly four times more likely than non-dog owners to meet daily physical activity guidelines just from walking their furry friend. That’s almost 200 more minutes of walking than people without a pup. So consider your sidekick a playful addition to your work day. Don’t have a dog? Offer to walk your neighbor’s.
4. Use your standing desk.
Between meetings and deep work sessions, stand up, crank some music and get dancing. This is the perfect time to do menial tasks like email processing and updating your tasks in your project management system. Set your Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes and get moving.
5. Gamify unavoidable tasks.
Have daily tasks that you hate doing? Throw on some music or a great podcast and turn it into a game. Create your own rules and scoring system. Take shoveling the driveway, for example. You can scoop to the beat for at least 20 minutes and reward yourself with a predetermined treat. Or vacuuming the car. You can turn it into a workout by doing air squats for every section you complete. Again, turn up the music! Spotify even has the perfect 20-minute workout playlist.
6. Take your breaks outside.
Pick up that skipping rope, buy that pogo ball (heck yes, the ’80s are back!), or grab your son’s basketball and head outside for sunshine and exercise. Taking a 15-20 minute break outside doing moderate activity will help you get back into focus and feel good. Sunlight helps boost serotonin, giving you more energy and helps keep you calm, positive, and focused.
7. Create a company-wide challenge.
A friend created a company-wide movement challenge and divided the employees into four teams. The teams had to accumulate as many points as possible by doing daily movement and logging it into their spreadsheet. Movement could be walking, workouts, or anything physical, so long as it: elevated their heart rate, was for 45 minutes, and was something they could do consistently. Just seeing co-workers check off another workout motivated many to get on board (one guy lost 40 lbs throughout the challenge!)
Incorporating play into your business day has been proven to increase overall mental and physical health and makes working more fun. The bonus: It doesn’t require hours of your time or for you to get extra sweaty (who wants to see a misty red face on zoom anyway?) You’ll be a happier woman and your business will grow when you can intentionally incorporate more playful movement into your day.