Why Play is a Necessity and Not Seen by Employers as Slacker Indulgence

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Work and play have long been thought of as opposites, but that is changing. An article in Marie Claire (September, pg 78), includes examples of companies who are hiring play consultants, instituting happy hours, and giving employees more space to dictate how they spend their time. Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil says this type of leeway is crucial for fostering a healthy work environment as well as for helping employees feel energized and de-stressed.

Brains tune out after about 90 minutes, according to a recent article in Marie Claire (September, pg 78; http://bit.ly/PT0cu8). Experts are now making the case that a healthy dose of fun pays off at work, and is actually essential to workplace productivity. This mean that "play time" - once seen as something only for slackers - is an important part of a work day. Therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil says it's a positive change that many workplaces no longer think of play as the opposite of work, and are instead embracing play-related policies.

Additionally, the more people take part in activities outside the office that they enjoy, the better they are able to process social cues. "This can really pay off over the course of a career," says Dr. Bonnie. These skills help people connect with their co-workers, meet new people, make networking connections, and more.

The prefrontal cortex of the brain is the headquarters for social behaviors and senses neuron to neuron connection from social play. The more people enjoy and interact with others, the better their brain will process social cues.

Play and work are mutually supportive - one cannot exist without the other. "Plus," says Dr. Bonnie, "it extends beyond work to positively affecting your mind, body - and relationships." Taking time out for play can be effective for multiple areas of life beyond just work and relationships; it provides focus, diffuses conflict, and boosts creativity.

A lack of play can lead to more than increased stress; blood sugar is controlled better if people move around and leave their chair on a regular basis, and this goes a long way toward keeping people healthy. "A blood sugar imbalance is what leads to addiction," explains Dr. Bonnie. Taking part in enjoyable activities during the work day, or on a regular basis, can help balance this.

Creating a space for fun and relaxation outside the office has too many benefits to ignore. Taking a break will even help people work better - so their bosses shouldn't worry!

To see Dr. Bonnie talking more about the mind/body connection, click here: http://youtu.be/vOIomp6CHSo or check out her book, Make Up Don't Break Up, which discusses the idea of making mini-connections with people throughout the day, and emphasizes the importance of play, novelty, and excitement.

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