Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Play Breaks

by Kirsten Milliken, PhD

For decades, employers have allowed workers to take a ten-minute break to smoke a cigarette. What does the smoker get out of the ten-minute smoke break? Their nicotine “fix,” certainly. But they also get away from their desk. They often get to be social with peers. They get to move their bodies and breathe the outdoor air. These breaks are often under the auspices of “needing” to smoke to relax during periods of stress. With the decline in the number of people who smoke (three percent a year), are employees given other options for relaxing or taking random breaks?

What if you’re not a smoker? My husband once pretended to be a smoker so that he could take breaks and get out of his work environment for ten minutes several times a day. He would come back from “smoking” feeling refreshed, happier, and ready to focus on his next task. It seemed unlikely to him that his request would have been granted had he simply asked if he could have a break.

I am addicted to play the way smokers are addicted to nicotine. If I don’t get some form of play I get irritable, I have cravings, and I have difficulty handling stress. When I have a few moments to move, have fun, laugh, or create something novel, my brain is able to power down for a few moments and then come back “online” so I can resume working in a more productive way. Thus I receive all the benefits and none of the health concerns of smoking. In fact, research suggests that people who incorporate forms of play into their days are healthier and more satisfied with their lives.

What would you do if the company where you work had a policy that its workers had to play for fifteen to thirty minutes every day? How would you spend your time? How would that change your mood? Mindset? Productivity? Happiness? Job satisfaction?

Answer in the comments or venture over to the Attention connection, CHADD’s new online communities.

Kirsten Milliken, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, a certified ADHD coach, and the founder of PlayDHD. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her two amazing children and two really freaky dogs. Dr. Milliken is passionate about helping those with ADHD communicate about the ways that ADHD affects them and coaches them to develop skill sets that build on their strengths in order to manage the day-to-day challenges of ADHD. She created PLAYDHD to create a specific awareness of the connection between ADHD and the value of play. Her website, playdhd.com, is dedicated to the art of using play in managing symptoms of ADHD, achieving goals, and enjoying life. She is an active member in the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), CHADD, Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), International Coaches Federation (ICF), and a graduate of the ADD Coaches Academy (ADDCA). She regularly presents at ADHD conferences on the subject of play. She also hosts the PlayDHD podcast, is a frequent guest and former co-host on Attention Talk Radio, and contributes to various other websites serving the ADHD community.

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