Unlike most New Year’s resolutions that usually mean trying to muster the will power to do something difficult and often unpleasant (like starting a rigorous exercise program or cutting sugar from your diet), this resolution is all about making an effort in 2018 to have more fun. And, if fun for fun’s sake isn’t motivation enough for you, here are 4 important, evidence-based reasons that engaging in regular play, as in a game night with friends or family, will improve your health, help your career, and make you an overall happier person:
- Stress relief: Would you be surprised to learn that “play time” is just as important for adults as it is for children? Science has long proven that a nice dose of leisure time boosts endorphins (the feel-good hormones) and gives us an overall feeling of well-being and calm. It also reduces our stress-hormones, which is indicative of a better overall health outcome by doing things like lowering our blood pressure, heart rate, and overall stress levels. So, playing games literally makes you a more healthy human being.
- Meet new people: Game night doesn’t have to mean the traditional “family game night” with mom, dad, and 2.5 kids gathered around the kitchen table. Singles, young professionals, and people from all ages and backgrounds are connecting on Meetup for game nights in trendy bars, board game cafes, and hangouts in cities across the US (and beyond). And, we’re not talking about 10 or 15 people getting together. For example, Denver, Colorado, has a board game group that meets almost daily and consists of over 3,000 members! A great way to get to know new people in a fun, non-work-related environment, especially if you’re new to the city.
- Get smarter: Playing games, especially strategic board games, is proven to enhance an impressive list of cognitive and emotional skills, notwithstanding their positive effects on the pre-frontal cortex section of the brain which is responsible for complex functions. They’re also good for improving important life skills like problem-solving, memory, strategic thinking, communication, conflict resolution, imagination, and creativity, just to name a few.
- Become more productive: Foosball tables, rooftop putting greens, an indoor ferris wheel … Creative workspaces, as they are now being called, are popping up in office buildings around the world as employers (following in the footsteps of tech giants like Google) catch on to the notion that injecting a little bit of fun into the workday actually leads to better business outcomes, employee satisfaction, and, yes, productivity. Even if it means carving out a few hours for yourself to play board games with friends, family, or even strangers, making fun and “play” a priority in your life can give you the stress-relieving outlet you need to actually be more energized, focused, and productive at work.