When we're little, most of us can't wait to be adults. Then we grow up and want to feel like a kid again. It's no mystery; who doesn't want to go back to a time when your most pressing issue was getting a turn on the monkey bars?
Turns out, reliving your childhood isn't just good for the soul; it can help you be more productive. Here are four things you did in kindergarten that could make you successful if you add them to your to-do list today:
OK, it will take a lot of guts to suggest a duet at your next client meeting, but sing-alongs are one of the best ways to break the ice and bond people together, according to research from the University of Oxford.
The study, published in the Royal Society's Open Science journal, followed people enrolled in adult education classes, and found that singing groups bonded more quickly than creative writing or craft classes.
"Singing is found in all human societies and can be performed to some extent by the vast majority of people," said lead researcher Eiluned Pearce of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology. "It's been suggested that singing is one of the ways in which we build social cohesion when there isn't enough time to establish one-to-one connections between everyone in a group."
Pearce says she expected the singing classes to feel closer, but she found something different: "In the first month, people in the singing classes became much closer to each other over the course of a single class than those in the other classes did," she said. "Singing broke the ice better than the other activities, getting the group together faster by giving a boost to how close classmates felt towards each other right at the start of the course.
"Really close relationships still depend on interactions between individuals or much smaller groups, but this study shows singing can kick start the bonding process."
Perhaps it's time to install karaoke machines in the break room?
A new trend in coloring books doesn't involve the latest comic book or movie character. Instead, more sophisticated and artistic books are being snatched up by adults, and two titles even held the number-one selling spot on Amazon earlier this year. Turns out this art-class activity gives you more than just a pretty picture; it helps you relax, focus and be more creative.
The benefits of coloring have been known for decades. Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, encouraged patients to color in order to center their minds. Coloring also activates areas in your brain that control creativity and fine motor skills.
"The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors," psychologist Gloria Martnez Ayala told the Huffington Post. "This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills."
So break out the crayons and release your inner child. (Then hang your masterpiece on the refrigerator.)
Ask a room full of children what is their favorite subject and some are bound to say "recess." Being outside in the fresh air is a chance to run around and laugh with friends, and who wouldn't look forward to that?
When you're an adult, however, recess probably isn't programmed into your day. Too bad, because being in nature makes you happier and boosts your decision-making process, according to research conducted at the University of Michigan.
Urban environments are mentally draining because they force your attention to a specific stimulation, such as traffic, scientists say. Nature, however, doesn't demand your attention. Instead, it provides a chance to think as much or little as you wish. Researchers found that spending time in nature replenishes exhausted mental resources.
So don't eat lunch at your desk; take a walk at a nearby park. If that's not an option, simply having plants around the office can help, according to a study by the University of Vermont. (Installing monkey bars is optional.)
Remember in kindergarten when you had to put your head down on your desk and take a nap? You should give serious thought to doing that again. Naps restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
A short nap (20-30 minutes) boosts short-term alertness. Longer naps have more benefits; NASA conducted a study on sleepy military pilots and astronauts and found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
Napping also has psychological benefits, like taking a mini-vacation, allowing you to return to work refreshed and rejuvenated. Several companies, such as Google and Huffington Post, are getting in on the benefits of naps by offering nap rooms or pods. So when you pack your briefcase in the morning, don't forget to toss in your blankie.