What do you do to chill out?  Playtime hit the headlines last week with Ikea launching their ‘Let play unwind your mind’ campaign. Ikea is encouraging adults to take ‘time out’ and do fun things to boost their wellbeing, increase creativity and improve their overall mood.  There are some very simple suggestions to fire your imagination and start to take time out to just be and enjoy. Clearly this is a marketing campaign aimed to get you to shop in their store, but the theory behind this idea is ‘sound’ 

How does play aid in wellbeing? 
 
We know that play enhances children’s development and their learning abilities, but it can also benefit people of all ages. Having fun releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemical. 
Endorphins help to: 
• Keep you feeling energetic 
• Help with connection and relationships 
• Help to stimulate creative thinking and enhance brain function. 
 
Many modern thinking employers today use play at work to help to grow staff morale, aid in team building and reduce absenteeism. In some of the larger tech companies and marketing agencies, you will find a ping pong table in the business as well as a programme of fun events to engage with the staff. 
How can an employer encourage play at work? 
 
TOP TIP – if at all possible remove access to all electronic gadgets, and try and encourage interaction with at least two people. 
Here are a few suggestions that any employer could introduce: 
• Install a baseball ring in the car park, you will be amazed how many people will take up this opportunity to shoot a hoop in a 15 min break. 
• Bring board games into the staff canteen or break out areas, often you can find really good board games in charity shops – you don’t have to spend a fortune. 
• Find a spare office table and set up a large jigsaw puzzle – this can help with problem solving and creative thinking and often encourage conversations when a couple of people are doing the puzzle together, it can be picked up and put down without any stress and create a sense of team achievement when its completed. 
What are the benefits of introducing play time at work? 
 
Some jobs can be quite mundane and repetitive, adding in a short play time break gives the brain a chance to stimulate and re-engage with the process in a more positive way. 
 
While other roles can be stressful and there can be a build-up of pressure, this can turn up the negative inner voice and start to become overwhelming. Taking a play break even if its only 10-15 minutes, can silence this internal critic and distract the brain into doing something positive and fun. 
 
Removing yourself from a problem, where there doesn’t seem to be a solution, can create that gap and taking time out to play can reboot the creative side of the brain and suddenly when you return you find a new way to approach the problem that seemed impossible only 10 minutes earlier. 
Here are some of the ways I chill out 
 
Although my career as a mindreader has me in front of audiences and my training job in a room of attendees at a training seminar or workshop, a large amount of time I am working from home on my own and so I need to find ways like so many of us who are now home working to take that break and have fun. 
 
But I seem to have the opposite problem. There are so many things I enjoy doing, which include playing the guitar and learning the piano, these again can be on my own so I have joined two local bands, and this definitely supports my feeling of wellbeing. 
 
The shelves in my living room are packed with many of the traditional board games and my partner Trudy often has the kitchen table filled with a jigsaw. Our family gatherings almost always include some sort of board game challenge. 
 
I am an enormous Lego fan and I can often be found ‘taking time out’ to create a new Lego model, brilliant for problem solving and creative thinking skills. 
 
If you are looking to improve the wellbeing of your staff find out more about or training and workshops here. 
 
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