The statistics of depression amongst full-time U.S. workers and the consequent economic damages alone should lead us to evaluate what is missing in our work environments. More often than not, work equals stress and deadlines. What if we could change that by incorporating play into the workplace?
When we’re depressed, we feel pessimistic about our capabilities and lack the physical energy to engage in basic tasks, let alone difficult challenges. We lack the self-efficacy to succeed in whatever we may be working on and consequently, lose even more motivation and drive.
Depression means disconnection; when we are depressed we isolate and find it difficult to relate to others. This leads to an inability to collaborate or engage in effective team building solutions.
The opposite of play isn’t work
According to pioneer play researcher Brian Sutton-Smith,
“the opposite of play is depression. It’s time we started to appreciate play for what it does for our mental health.”
That’s right. Let me state it another way. Play is the opposite of depression.
[Related: Vision Boards For Mental Wellbeing]
Game-play is literally the neurological opposite of depression
We’re immediately and constantly focused on a goal when we play games. Whether it’s to solve a puzzle, find hidden objects, reach a finish line, or score more points than other players, the goal focuses our attention and creates a sense of motivation and determination. As we anticipate our potential success, our reward pathways light up.
“Playing is how we become part of existing communities—the human community, first and foremost, and the thousands of communities, large and small, that humans create. We become part of communities (of grown-ups, parents, moviegoers, social media bloggers, gamers, dieters, cooks, partygoers, even loners) by imagining ourselves to be competent members of those communities and creatively imitating others—in other words, by playing at being members before we knew how.”
Why Game Play Matters
According to Jane McGonigal, whenever we play a game, whether it be a video game, board game, or a team sport, we learn a set of psychological skills such as:
how to control our attention,
invite others to participate with us,
how to ask for help.
Tap into and supercharge our motivation, willpower, and resilience.
She went on further:
“people tend to experience stronger self-confidence, increased physical energy, and powerful positive emotions, like curiosity and excitement, during play.”
Jane talks further on the subject of depression versus play in a Ted Talk:
How to bring “play” to the workplace
So why shouldn’t we incorporate “play” into our work environment? Incorporating play into the workplace will increase friendly competition, motivation, goal setting, and concentration.
The New York Times article “Looking for a Lesson in Google’s perks,” describes the company as a place to work and play. According to the article, all of Google’s offices and campuses worldwide strive to reflect the company’s overreaching philosophy: “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” And how have they accomplished this? By creating a work environment that includes a private library with secret rooms, Lego play stations, ladders that connect the different floors where employees engage in scavenger hunts, and dogs scurrying about with their owners. Google’s profits and success speak for itself; the company clearly knows what it’s doing.
In such work environments, employees come to work because they actually want to, rather than feeling forced to. An environment that instills excitement instead of dread is one that will experience exponential revenue and profits by fostering employees’ overall wellness.
Instead of dreading Mondays, every day could serve as a new opportunity to reach a new goal.
Originally published on: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/opposite-workplace-depression-play-kevin-kazuhito-naruse/