When is Recess?  Allowing Play and Fun Back into Life - May 2024

When is Recess? Allowing Play and Fun Back into Life - May 2024

As adults, we often find ourselves running on the adult..itis gerbil wheel, with so many responsibilities that there is no time for play or fun in our lives.  Let’s step back in time for a moment to remember the pure joy of playing as a kid--being free to run, jump, play games, be spontaneous and laughing until our stomachs hurt.  As adults, it is easy to forget the importance of play and how essential it is in refueling our hearts and for our overall well-being.  This month I challenge this group to adopt a recess mindset!

So, when is recess?  Truth is, it is whenever we choose to let fun and play back into our lives.  Here’s how and why we each should take time for recess no matter our age: 

Stress relief:  In healthcare, stress is at an all time high.  Add that on top of all of life’s activities and responsibilities.  Research tells us that 90% of chronic disease is being linked backed to the hormonal impact of constant stress.  That is reason enough to play more, as play and having fun is a fantastic stress reliever.  Play gives us each a chance to step away from the daily routine and to embrace more spontaneity in our lives.  Play brings us more joy and relaxation too.  What a bonus!

Creativity boost:  Engaging in play brings forth more connection to the right side of our brains—the imagination center.  With imagination, more creativity comes into play.  There will be out of the box thinking and new problem-solving ideas that spring forth after a few minutes of playful activities. 

Improved productivity:  Many years ago, I read that 2 minutes of fun/play increases one’s productivity by 100%.  

Mental health benefits:  There are so many mental health benefits from play/fun/laughter.  Endorphins are released, which in turn elevate our mood, combating feelings of anxiety and depression.  Play is a natural way to boost energy. 

Relationships:  Go back to the playground, the moment when the bell rang, signaling freedom from the confines of the classroom…recall that moment when connecting with friends was all that mattered as recess started.  Play fosters connection and strengthens bonds we have with others.


Great benefits outlined here, but one may ask, who has the time?  Tips for those struggling with this question:

Schedule playtime:  Make an appointment for playtime, and honor it just like any other appointment.  Stay committed to the blocked time no matter what pops up.  Take a moment to recognize a belief pattern that might rear its voice.  I have the belief pattern that there is no play until the work is done.  Guess what?  The work is never done!  So, the belief can get in the way of allowing fun and play to happen.  Take a moment to identify the personal belief patterns that may derail the appointment that has been scheduled for intentional play and fun.

Resurrect an old hobby:  Think about a hobby or activities that brought lots of joy, spontaneity, or laughter at one point in life.  Recommit to trying it again. 

Incorporate play into the daily routine:   If craving out a bunch of time on the schedule is too hard, consider incorporating a couple of minutes of fun several times a day, which can be just as beneficial.  Take time to doodle, play a quick game while on break, or engage in a playful conversation with a colleague. 

Try something new:  Get outside the comfort zone and try something brand new.  Sign up for a dance class, learn a new game, have friends over and play board games, etc.  Answer the question:  If I had more time I would try__________________.  Then find a way to do it.  Remember YouTube has many videos on how to do something new.

Create a playful environment:  Keep playful items within reach as a reminder to take a recess.  Ideas from my work space to share: fidget spinners, koosh ball to toss up and down, pipe cleaners, stress ball, paperweight with floating balls, and instant access to music for a quick dance party.  Add to this list, let the imagination drive what would work best in your workspace.

Go first and then encourage others to engage in fun activities.  Think about team-building activities, games at lunch break, picnics with yard games, or a boom box dance party for a 10-minute break.  Just watch productivity soar as a result.

Adopting or embracing a recess mindset means allowing ourselves to be present in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.  As stated above, many will need to give themselves permission to allow play and fun to re-enter their lives.  Please remember that play and fun is a vital part of being human.

So, when is recess?  The answer is any time it is needed.  Make the time for fun and play.  Watch it transform your well-being, refuel your heart, enhance your creativity, strengthen your relationships and elevate your productivity. 

Be intentional and take time to play today.  Every day for that matter!



Contact me:

Cella Janisch-Hartline, RN, BSN, PCC Professional Certified Coach, Nursing Leadership Senior Manager for Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative has been involved in various healthcare industry leadership positions for the past 40 years. The majority of her career has been spent working in an acute care critical access facility for nearly 25 years. Throughout her work experience, she has learned most of her leadership skills and techniques through the school of “hard knocks”. Cella’s passion for teaching leadership tips and techniques earned her the 2018 Outstanding Educator Award through the National Rural Health Association. She is well-known for her humorous, engaging and personable facilitation style.
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