“Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in live and really enjoy it.” – Eileen Caddy

When was the last time you recall having fun? Not merely feeling somewhat pleased, but fully enjoying yourself? The truth is we often feel guilty even thinking about having fun, let alone actively engaged in something we consider fun. Yet, there’s good evidence supporting the recommendation to carve out some time to do just that. Here are eight reasons why.

You must work, so “Do it well, make it fun.”

If you’re not independently wealthy, you must secure gainful employment and bring home money to pay the bills and take care of the family. Instead of dreading the job or feeling stuck in a go-nowhere career, change your mindset. Ron Culbertson is the author of a book with the intriguing and self-explanatory title “Do It Well. Make It Fun.: The Key to Success in Life, Death and Almost Everything in Between.” In an interview in Forbes, Culbertson explained that when he stumbled upon the realization that if he could do a job well (even one he didn’t particularly like) and somehow make it fun, he’d be more effective and eventually be more successful. So, he coined the phrase, “Do it well, make it fun.”

Culbertson further explained that this two-step approach could work in almost any situation in life. A great attitude also provides motivation and inspiration for having fun and making a job or task more enjoyable. A 2004 study by Ford et al. found that employees who related being in a fun work environment experienced increased levels of creativity, communication, satisfaction, enthusiasm and group cohesiveness.

Having fun helps relieve anxiety and depression.

There are numerous studies on methods and activities that help quash mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and some contain gems of wisdom applicable to having fun in the process. One study looked at dance and dance movement therapy and its effect on increasing positive mood and well-being, as well as diminishing outcomes of clinical anxiety and depression. Even more reason to get your groove on with a dance class or dancing to the music on the radio in your living room, right?

Boost your mood with a wardrobe switch-up.

If putting on the same type of outfit or attire day after day starts to get you down, consider a wardrobe switch-up. Remember when you were a kid and the school had backwards-day, meaning students could wear their clothes backwards or mismatched socks and tops and bottoms. In business, that practice morphed to “casual day” or some other clever moniker. Still, the advice to add a bit of zip to your attire by including a contrasting color or even to-die-for undies (nobody knows but you) can serve to elevate your mood and brighten your day. Besides, what women doesn’t turn to retail therapy to have fun from time to time? Shopping for clothes can have a dramatic effect on mood.

Enjoyment and flow: two benefits of cognitive absorption in technology.

Researchers Ritu Agarwal and Elena Karahanna explored the reason why time seems to fly when you’re having fun with technology. No kidding. The title of their research published in MIS Quarterly was: “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun: Cognitive Absorption and Beliefs About Information Technology Usage.” They found that the constructs of enjoyment and flow are perhaps important variables in explaining acceptance of technology. They identified cognitive absorption and defined it as deep involvement with software and theorized it was exhibited by heightened enjoyment, curiosity, control, focused immersion and temporal dissociation.

Remember that the next time you find yourself engrossed and having fun with technology-related devices and projects. Likely it’s not just techies who benefit from this type of enjoyment and flow.

Bust stress with some laughter therapy.

Don’t we all get a kick out of a good laugh? The science behind why laughter is good for you is quite concise. When you laugh, you release a torrent of stress-busting endorphins, your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Whether you laugh by yourself or in a group, go ahead and let it loose. Even better, the human body can’t tell if something is funny or not, or care if you have a sense of humor, so if you can get your giggle on, you’ll still benefit. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America recommends laughter therapy for its healing powers and ability to enhance overall health and wellness.

You’ll sleep better.

When you’ve enjoyed yourself laughing, having fun, interacting with people you have a good time with, relaxed, played and pursued meaningful activities you’ll find that you’ve contributed to a healthy kind of tired where you naturally drift off to sleep and stay asleep to get maximum restorative benefits. These include muscle repair and consolidation of memories. So, instead of being fixated on getting enough sleep, focus on the kinds of daytime activities where you feel you’re having fun.

Enhance relationships with a playful nature.

Anyone who’s ever struggled with finding something to say to a stranger, whether a potential business connection, new co-worker, neighbor or someone you regularly see while shopping or getting coffee knows that breaking the ice can be a challenge. Yet, a slight attitude change, such as adopting a playful nature, can help smooth away difficulties. Interactions with others, even those you’ve know a long time but may be experiencing a disagreement with or a rough patch, can be easier. Having fun and sharing activities with others helps build empathy, compassion, trust and intimacy.

Fun helps improve brain function.

It’s not only older adults hoping to stave off Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who can benefit from activities that stimulate and challenge the brain. Everyone can realize gains in mental acuity, concentration, focus and clarity from playing chess, working on puzzles or crosswords and other brain challenging activities. Not only do these activities work to improve brain function, they may also help prevent the onset of memory problems.