What does it mean to play? Play is defined by the dictionary as engaging in an activity for the purpose of enjoyment and recreation versus having a practical and serious purpose.
Do you remember how you loved to unwind as a kid?
As a mom and business owner, I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes that there were more hours in a day. With your never-ending to-do list, ask yourself this: When was the last time you had some fun? If you can’t remember the answer, let me refresh your memory as to why this needs to be on your radar.
Over the years I have experienced so many personal and professional benefits from scheduling time to play with my kids and friends (yup, I play with other adults).
Listening to my urge to play pulled me out of a dark place and re-energized my life.
In December 2009, I lost my best friend and biggest cheerleader to cancer. My mom’s death was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I shut down socially because talking about her made it real and painful. After two years of living without my spark for life, I felt this overwhelming urge to get my girlfriends together to play with me. We had adventures doing activities like pole dancing, axe throwing, circus school, and more. That’s when the Kick-Ass Ladies group was born and when I truly realized the value of play.
Let’s explore some of the specific benefits:
- Play away your stress
Dr. Bowen White, MD and a board member for the National Institute for Play, a nonprofit organization that gathers research on play, declares that it is an effective tool for stress management. When we engage in play and have fun, our dopamine (chemicals in our brains that make us feel good) increases and our blood pressure decreases.
Any stress I’m experiencing before I start hanging out with my friends quickly or take part in my fave sport, volleyball, disappears when I’m in the moment. Playing recharges my batteries so that I am energized for my family and business.
- Increase your effectiveness at work
Not only does play make people more productive, but it also tends to improve their work performance. This is according to Dr. White, who also consults with companies to help them create healthy work environments. He finds that it sparks creativity and creative problem-solving.
I have found that it ignites my creativity. For example, after winning a speech competition, I celebrated by spraying myself with champagne. It was so FUN that I hosted an event for almost 50 women where we all sprayed each other with champagne like we were a professional sports team.
- Fosters Connection
I bring hundreds of women together to have playful adventures and often times they don’t know each other. Their feedback is that these activities help them bond and connect with other attendees with ease. Dr. White adds that when we let our guard down, it’s easier to connect with people. None of us were taking ourselves too seriously while spraying each other with champagne, but we sure felt a fun connection to one another.
If your mind isn’t filled with ways you can have some fun, here are some ideas:
- Think about what fun means to you
- What did you love to do for fun as a kid and how you can bring that into your life?
- Join a friend or group to play with and experiment until you find your play sweet spot
Play is not simply the actions we take, but it’s also a way of being. I am passionate about sharing the benefits of play and getting people to partake in it with me because it transformed my life. I hope that life becomes your playground if it isn’t already.