Ask anyone who has ever stepped on a piece of Lego while holding a full glass of wine if the toy building blocks can cause anxiety and you’ll get a resounding Yes. But, behavioural psychologists are pointing to it as a source of meditative relaxation for adults. Turns out, grown-ups need playtime too.
The days of Lego being purely a child’s distraction are long gone. Even 2014’s The Lego Movie, with its knowing wisecracks and schizophrenic Good Cop/Bad Cop, skewed more adult than tween.
Former Manchester United and England star David Beckham counts himself a fan, saying that the plastic construction blocks help him unwind at the end of the day. “When the kids come home from school, we’ll often play their favourite games,” he told British journalists last year. “They love Lego. So do I. I think Lego sometimes helps to calm me down.”
Play has been shown to boost brain function.
“Lego is a lot more than a toy – it’s a creative expression,” Lego CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp told The Telegraph in 2014. “We see a lot of adults hugely engaged with it. With Lego you can make the most amazing things — things you could only imagine. People just love to make things. It’s deep in every human being.”
Knudstorp, reports the Huffington Post, has put his money where his mouth is when it comes to Lego as a tool to encourage people to experiment. He’s developed a consulting business called Serious Play, which has executives work with special Lego sets as a group exercise. Serious Play trains facilitators to work with executives who use the “passionate and practical process for building confidence, focus, commitment and insight.”
Psychotherapist Philippa Perry, author of How to Stay Sane, says in the Guardian that “Play maintains our brain function and stimulates the imagination, helping us to stay flexible.”
In a world where phones beep and ping continuously, and the stress of work follows you everywhere, it’s becoming more accepted that some playtime can offer a respite from the grind of daily life. Research also shows that play can relieve stress, boost creativity and brain function, and improve our relationships with other people by fostering trust with others.
So get your Lego sets, march into the office, and get on with being awesome. No instructions required. Let’s play.