Eurocamp

14Oct08

Eurocamp asks us – “Are we getting enough Play?”

“As children we had little difficulty in making the most of play-time and when the last school session ended we needed no prompting to leave the classroom for the fresh air and activities we collectively call play. As play-time became break-time then recreation-time and we evolved into adults with lunch hours the cut-off between work and play became less well defined. In the workaholic culture of the 21st century, even the break or lunch hour has dissolved into the need to do more and more in less time and some of us finish the day without having truly left work in one form or another for more than a minute or two and that was the much delayed trip to the loo”

Eurocamp uses the tactic of telling adults they aren’t getting enough play in order to sell holidays, what they say on their website is true about how adults no longer have a playtime, but breaks. This backs up what I have said earlier on in my research. This was one of my initial comments that they are almost discouraged to play at work.

“We use the words ‘break’ and ‘play’ interchangeably but they are very different things when translated into reality. Breaks tend to consist of exchanging invoices for the newspaper or the well-known strenuous aerobic exercise of making tea and can degenerate into reading through work emails whilst eating a sandwich! Play represents a clearly differentiated concept, not too far removed from that of childhood and should involve things like fresh air, activity, creativity, being closer to nature and doing what children do so well, having fun. Families often play better together particularly where there are young children, as they can educate and inspire the adults to drop their inhibitions, leave their work behind and truly enter into the spirit of fun.

Clearly we all need some play time to balance our work stress and strain just as we need sleep to recuperate from our daytime activity. Just how much we need does vary between individuals in terms of their personal psychology and hardiness, but will also depend on the stressfulness of their employment, their social capital (i.e. the network of family and friends that support them) and their attitude to others. The quality of the play activity in terms of its strength in combating work stress is also very important as quality play can be more beneficial by the minute than that which offers less of a healthy alternative to the mundane. Thus learning to ride a horse will leave you more refreshed than simply sitting in the pub!

All these factors considered we will generally need between a fifth to a third of the time we spend doing work or chores devoted to play, which for quality play will be about one quarter of the 40hr working week i.e. 10hours per week or approximately 90mins a day. This is best calculated over a week or month but can be averaged to you own required daily ‘play dose’. We need to integrate this into our working week and this is far easier as we learn and engage with more play activities. Needless to say regular holidays can help us ‘top up’ not only our play quota, but also provide the opportunity to learn new play activities and even begin to draw the entire family together in joint fun and skill development.”

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