The words play and adulthood are not usually tight together into the same sentence. Our society tends to dismiss play when it comes to adults. Most of as look at it as unproductive, almost a guilty pleasure. Because once we reach adulthood, it’s time to get serious. And between personal and professional responsibilities, there’s absolutely no time to play. Yes, while play is an important part of childhood, and crucial to learning and growing, the right to play is eventually lost along the way to adulthood. As play is forgotten, and dismissed as something just for children, all adults are left with is work. But shouldn’t adults also have the right to take time off from their fast and stressful lives and revert to playing, just for playing’s sake? So why you should never stop playing and incorporate it into your daily life? Stick with me in this post and you will find out.
Featured image courtesy of Color Factory via Dezeen.
The need to do something for its own sake, for sheer enjoyment, is inbuilt in all of us.
Felicity Morse, Writer and Life Coach
WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER STOP PLAYING?
Play can be achieved in so many shapes and forms. It could be simply goofing around with friends, sharing jokes, playing volleyball, dressing up for a Halloween party, making snow angels in the yard, playing fetch with a dog, …. There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond having fun and enjoying yourself. By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can get many health benefits throughout life.
Playing with your romantic partner, friends, co-workers, pets, and children is a great way to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being. So it can fuel much more then just relaxation. Adult play is a time to forget about work and commitments, and to be social and inventive in an creative way.
THE BENEFITS OF PLAY
According to the article “The benefits of play for adults” by Lawrence Robinson, here are some benefits that play can bring into your life:
Relieves stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.
Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Play helps develop and improve social skills. Social skills are learned as part of the give and take of play. During childhood play, kids learn about verbal communication, body language, boundaries, cooperation, and teamwork. As adults, you continue to refine these skills through play and playful communication.
Play teaches cooperation with others. Play is a powerful catalyst for positive socialization. Through play, children learn how to “play nicely” with others—to work together, follow mutually agreed upon rules, and socialize in groups. As adults, you can continue to use play to break down barriers and improve your relationships with others.
Play can heal emotional wounds. As adults, when you play together, you are engaging in exactly the same patterns of behavior that positively shape the brains of children. These same playful behaviors that predict emotional health in children can also lead to positive changes in adults. If an emotionally-insecure individual plays with a secure partner, for example, it can help replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive assumptions and actions.
PLAYSCAPES FOR ADULTS – SPACES THAT ENCOURAGE US TO PLAY
Looking from an interior designer’s point of view, we can design spaces that encourage and create opportunities to play: from installations, offices, homes, theme parks and playgrounds. I will present some projects that celebrate play and put in the front row.
ON SPACE TIME FOAM BY TOMAS SARACENO
For On Space Time Foam , his new installation at the HangarBicocca in 2012 , Saraceno conceived a large transparent membrane (which he amusingly calls la lasagna ) that visitors can get into. Folded in three layers, it is suspended at 25-metres above the ground, providing a radical bodily experience. I was also one of those people playing on top of this amazing art structure back in 2012 and I absolutely loved it!
“Let us invent an instrument that all the humans in the planet can play at the same time, so that when you play one string it reverberates in all the other strings. That will tune us all. When we are able of producing a harmony as a species then maybe somebody else will hear us”Tomás Saraceno with Filipa Ramos. Where is Everybody? Domus, 29 October 2012.
Photo curtesy of Studio Tomas Saraceno, On Space Time Foam
NUMEN – NET BLOW-UP
Croatian-Austrian design collective numen/for use is best known for their fun, playful, interactive structures. One of my favourite structure is ‘net blow-up’ — displayed in October 2013 near the waterfront in Yokohama, Japan. It is an inflatable, box-like space with buoyant black webs fitted tightly inside. The nets provide climbing and tumbling surfaces on multiple levels for people to explore, play and have a blast.
Photo curtesy Numen for use
OFFICE DESIGN BY STUIDO AUTORY
These days, play has entered the workplace, and more than as simply a sideline activity. Many companies have long recognised the link between productivity and a fun work environment. Even Google has its game rooms for workers, and many companies have started regular “game nights” or even installing rooms filled with plastic balls for workers on their off-times to jump around in. Some encourage play and creativity by offering art or yoga classes, throwing regular parties, providing games such as Foosball or ping pong, or encouraging recess-like breaks during the workday for employees to play and let off steam.
I am absolutely in love with his office design by studio Autori. The architects at Autori have created an interior design for the new office of a Serbian gaming firm that truly facilitates multi-tasking. A central wood panelled wall not only provides standing workplaces, but also numerous possibilities for physical training – for a quick pull-up during a break or simply to thoroughly stretch the spine. Finally, in the open kitchen two large tables, swings, a table tennis table and a wheel of fortune, which also doubles as a whiteboard ensure staff have an entertaining and active break.
Catena Media Serbia office by AUTORI, Photo: Relja Ivanic
Just as in this example, I think workspaces should be designed like playgrounds, with flexible, open environments that encourage people to get up and bump into those they don’t sit next to. It’s those random encounters that fuel creativity. A company with such an environment understands that more play at work results in more productivity, higher job satisfaction and greater workplace morale.
BRINGING PLAY INTO YOUR HOME
Interiors that encourage you to play are good for you health and wellness. How to incorporate elements that encourage play into your own home? You don’t need to have a whole spare room (that you could actually call game room) where you hide all your “guilty pleasure” fun activities and board games. Or turning into an actual playground. Simple objects that remind us to take some time off and just play with them can also do the trick: think of using a hammock, a rocking chair, swings and nets as furniture and incorporate it in your interior. You can even make your walls fun and interactive: what about using one of your walls as a blackboard, where you can spontaneously leave messages or get crazy and draw all over them.
House by Gwendolyn Huisman and Marijn Boterman. Photography is by the architects unless stated otherwise. Photo via Dezeen.
People today have such busy lifestyles that time spent together with other family members has become more precious than ever. Taiwanese studio HAO Design installed a play area in the kitchen of this family home so the children could spend more time with their parents.
Amusement casa by HAO, Photo curtesy of HAO
SO ONCE AGAIN – WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER STOP PLAYING?
Taking the time to regenerate yourself through play is one of the best ways you can help your career. When the project you’re working on hits a serious glitch, take some time out to play and have a few laughs. Taking a pause for play does a lot more than take your mind off the problem. When you play, you engage the creative side of your brain and silence your “inner editor,” that psychological barrier that censors your thoughts and ideas. This can often help you see the problem in a new light and think up fresh, creative solutions.
Perhaps, as adults, we can relearn how to play, given enough open space and time. To do so, we need a shift in mindset, moving away from thinking of play as something we sign up for and towards the idea of it happening spontaneously. Perhaps we can start thinking of play as something we can engage in anytime, if we can put down our phones and pay attention, and allow ourselves the risk of being bored.
So why you should never stop playing? Simply because play brings joy, it is vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships. So never stop playing!