The Importance of Play
A friend said to me today, “My life is comprised of working then slacking off and feeling guilty for not being productive”. This seems to capture the root of my anxiety pretty well. I obsess over maximizing productivity when I am working and decreasing the non-work, recharge times I need to maintain the grind.
Working does have great mental health benefits however, specifically during flow state, when you are consumed in the work, time stands still, and you can’t think of anything else. I think the flow state in the opposite category is often overlooked, unfortunately. The flow state stemming from relaxation, which I believe to be play. The moments when you consume yourself with silliness and joy and the difficulties of your life and work are stricken from your consciousness.
I believe that it’s pretty common knowledge that the best way to preserve your ability to concentrate and be productive for extended times is dependent on your ability to find regular relaxation. However, I think the habits that we most rely on for relaxation may be misguided.
I am proposing that we embrace a regular practice of play, a recall to a more childish state. I believe that adults practice relaxation in a way that mirrors childish play, but miss out on the benefits of finding themselves in a state of flow. For instance, running on a treadmill is not the same as playing tag in the woods. Binge watching a series on netflix is not the same as building a pillow fort and pretending to ward off attackers.
I believe embracing a practice of play will increase the joy you find in life and your ability to push yourself in work.