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Harnessing Play as a Powerful Tool for Productivity

It is so easy to get carried away with the message of ‘go hard’, ‘hustle & grind’, while ignoring that success does not hinge solely on your inability to rest, take breaks and just be.


As women working to grow our careers, it is so easy to get carried away with the message of ‘go hard’, ‘hustle & grind’ and the very worst ‘sleep when you are dead’. For heaven’s sake, even God rested. I wish we had more self-care messages as much as we had the ‘go hard’ messages.

I used to be that lady who worked 7 days a week. I’d get invited for picnics, hiking, cultural exchange programs and even travel but I’d decline all because of work so even though I had been juggling school work and my business all week, I still pushed myself to WORK on weekends.

In my books, you always needed to show full working. Why sleep when you had work to do. Napping was even a big deal for me cos I’d guilt trip myself for sleeping when there was work to do even though I was not being truly productive in those exhausted-brain-shut-down hours. I did not know how to take breaks from work. I did not understand how beneficial an interplay of rest and sleep was for my beautiful brain.

I WORE STRESS AND OVERWORK LIKE A BADGE OF HONOUR.

Little did I know that I was creating a full proof exhaustion plan for myself. Even on weekends when I was home with my family 25% of me at least was STRESSING about work.

Many of us refuse to create time for play because we run under this falsehood that ‘grinding’ means more, unfortunately research has shown over time that grinding without play not only drains you of your creative juices but causes wear and tear to your brain and body organs.

Play and Rest are the two most underrated ways the body recharges itself.

If you are running low on creative juices then you need to switch off and play. Take a walk, go to a place with a lot of greenery, enjoy the blue skies by the sea and of course the undiluted O2.

Benefits of play.

Making time for play reduces stress and increases your ability to cope when under pressure or stress. When you laugh and play, your body releases serotonin, giving you that natural high to make you feel good. Serotonin is a chemical that regulates many of our most basic processes – including sleep patterns, memory, body temperature, and mood. This means better sleep and lower blood pressure.

By taking the time to relax, enjoy yourself and do things you actually like, you become more mentally awake with an increased capacity to tackle difficult tasks.

You have better memory and concentration when you play. This is because play frees up mental space. It also allows you to make more meaningful connections. Life can get so busy that we grow apart from those that matter. Calling them, seeing a movie or doing something fun together will make you happy and improve your mental wellbeing.

You must always remember that no one is indispensable, go ahead and live life, explore, pay more attention to your surroundings, go on that vacation, do something fun from time to time, your body and soul will thank you.

If you are too serious to consider ‘hide & seek’ as play, here a few options.

Take dance lessons: Dance strengthens the brain especially ballroom dancing. It also improves blood flow to the brain.

Learn a new language: Learning a language is a fun way to age-proof your brain. What language will you love to learn?

Play an instrument – This is very recreational and at the same time strengthens the brain. It’s not too late to learn how to play an instrument. Studies have shown that people who play instruments have a better memory. I set out to learn the guitar but *coversface*

Take up a hobby: Activities that put your hands to work, like knitting, crocheting, and gardening, are proven stress relievers, and they also keep your brain young.

Get Social: No not on social media. Social activities have been found to improve mental agility. So, hey! Go out more, socialize more.

PS: I also make it a point of duty to switch off social media on weekends and every now and then do a social media fast.

Exercise: Don’t roll your eyes. Let’s just call it physical movement. Physical movement can be fun, it doesn’t have to be intense. Remember back in the days when you used to jump rope? Don’t see it as a chore, it can still be fun. Even more fun when you do it with friends and family.

These days, I am learning the value of self-care & self-preservation. I’m sure you are familiar with that airplane analogy; SAVE YOURSELF FIRST. I spend more time these days nurturing my soul and securing that oxygen mask. It is SUPER IMPOSSIBLE to save anyone let alone the world if you are not taking care of YOU FIRST.

Now I consciously push myself out (I still have to talk myself into it) on Saturdays. Health is not just about being physically fit, eating super clean or going on a green diet. Health also includes being mentally fit and, in my opinion, it is even more important. Think about it, only a mentally fit person can take the right daily action to be physically fit. Mental fitness is not the absence of mental illness either, note that there are degrees.

Don’t put yourself on the back burner: PLAY. Find/create opportunities to have a very hearty laughter, go back to doing those favorite things you did as a child that ‘do not make sense’ because it does not have to. It’s like giving your brain a shower, the brain also needs some cleaning out, scrubbing, oiling & wearing fresh clean clothes to function at its best.

Imagine what your life would look like if you did not have a shower for a whole month?

Eeeewww!!! Now imagine the stench oozing from your brain because you have not cleaned it out in donkey years? Now you get my point.

What one ‘does not make sense’ thing will you do this weekend to give your brain a nice long refreshing shower?

Boost your productivity with more play time, schedule it in, be intentional. It won’t happen by accident.

Originally published at medium.com

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