Are you working your tail off in a demanding STEM profession? Too tired and stressed to take good care of yourself?
I know how you feel. The long hours, crazy commute and endless responsibilities of modern life- from parenting to keeping up with deadlines and emails- can lead to extreme stress and anxiety. I’m not here to tell you to eat right and exercise- even though you should. My advice is to put time into something that every human needs in order to live a happy, fulfilling life…
“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.” –Charlie Hoehn
Spending more time playing and engaging in fun activities will decrease your stress and help you enjoy work and life. When we were kids, playing was natural. As adults, we think that playing is for children. We believe, however misguidedly, that a professional must work long hours and remain serious.
Is this working for anyone?
In his book “Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety” author Charlie Hoehn un-veils the positive benefits playing has on anxiety and depression. He tells his story of going from working like a madman for best selling author, Tim Ferriss, and plunging into depression, to discovering how incorporating more play into his life brought back the joy that was missing.
Add more play into every day. The key is for you to find something that gets your body moving. Video games do not count.
Humans are meant to hunt and gather. Not sit still. Moving and using our bodies every day should be our regular state of state. Here are some ideas for ways to play.
- Think up creative ways to make your workday more playful. Instead of scheduling a meeting over coffee, how about playing catch instead? You can still talk and play at the same time. Make completing tasks at work into a game. How many emails can you answer in a set amount of time? Don’t forget to reward yourself!
- Make exercise into play. If you go out for a run, listen to music you love or a humorous podcast. Join a local team and play a sport each week. The social aspect and workout will do wonders for your attitude. Play more sports that you can do at any age like golf, bowling, tennis or throwing a Frisbee. If you have kids, make more time to play with them. Even a simple game of “chase” will add more motion and enjoyment into your day.
- Laugh more. Inject more comedy into your life through books, movies and watching stand-up comedy. Laughter has a variety of benefits- reducing stress hormone levels, lowering blood pressure, and releasing endorphins (your body’s natural pain killers).
Think about what you couldn’t wait to do when you were a child. Find a way to add more of those activities into your week. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Discover the power of play in your life now and reap the benefits of less stress at work and more fun with family.