Friday, December 9, 2011

Come Out and Play

Sometimes a kick back moment finds us and says, "Come play." It usually occurs when we're buzzing around like this:

It happened to me this past week and I almost didn't see it. I wonder why???

I was rushing through my work day when a 6-year-old girl (I'll call her Annie) asked me to read her a story. You see, I'm a speech-language pathologist who conducts evaluations (among other things) for a school district. I see a lot of kids.The problem is I generally don't get to play with them. When I assess struggling students, I do it efficiently, so they don't miss what's going on in their classroom.

Last Friday afternoon, as I was testing Annie, her eyes kept shifting to a bookcase. I re-directed her to  task, but her attention consistently drifted back to that bookshelf. When we were finished, she gazed at me with hopeful eyes and said, "Will you read me a story?"

I checked the clock. I still had one more appointment scheduled. I looked at those eyes. Her class was in the library. I figured the librarian was right in the middle of an activity so Annie wouldn't have a clue what was happening. I decided to be 15 minutes late for my appointment and told Annie to pick out a book.

Annie jumped up and skipped to the bookcase. She browsed for a minute, tapping her finger on her chin, then returned with The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. It made me smile. I'd read this book at least 100 times to my own sons who are now 21 and 23. Annie and I meandered through the pages meeting various animals and contemplated whether the spider would stop weaving his web to go play. Right in the middle of our own very busy day, Annie and I took a moment to kick back.

Was it a good thing? We enjoyed it, but did it make our work day more productive?

"Play is one of the top ways to develop stress resilience," explains Dr. Kathleen Hall from the Stress Institute. She goes on to say, "We cannot be stressed and play at the same time. When we play, our blood pressure goes down, our heart rate goes up; we produce endorphins. We get into almost this flow state of happiness."

Research points out that recess breaks at work increases productivity in the office up to 127 percent. Click here for more:

I have to agree. After the fun reading, the sense of urgency left me and I still made it to my next appointment. I was just happier when I arrived.

Am I suggesting you bring The Very Busy Spider, play dough and bubbles to work with you? Probably wouldn't be a good idea unless you work at a daycare center. But I, and research, found that taking mini-breaks at work to do something you enjoy will actually increase your performance and will make you a more content employee.

Stay tuned. This week we'll explore various ways to incorporate play into our life. Any ideas?

Kick Back Song of the Week:

Peter, Paul and Mary remind you to never grow up all the way with Puff the Magic Dragon.

Kick Back Book of the Week:

Find a child, if you don't have one of your own, and read him or her The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. I guarantee you a kick back moment:

A Little Something Extra:

"Life must be lived as play."
Greek philosopher
427–347 BC


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