You’ve heard the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Maybe the proverb should be rewritten “All work and no play makes Jack an unhealthy boy.”

And – yes – we have all heard the importance of life work balance. The key word in that concept is balance. Achieving a level of joy between the two is all about establishing priorities and boundaries.

Both elements are important but we may not always deeply understand the role each contributes to our lives

Continuing with the series of blogs on Wellness, this post will proceed with a spin around the wellness wheel focusing on the 12 dimensions of wellness. We’ll look at the dimension of work and play (and how they balance!) this week.


What Is Work?

We usually think of work as earning a paycheck. So we “work” as a way to sustain our lives.

When you really think about the meaning of work it is the idea that work is anything in our lives that has a purpose – whether it is for a paycheck or not. It is goal directed behavior, and what we do when we want to get something done.

It’s also true that in our society we have created an environment in which we are defined by the work we do. At cocktail parties we may be asked “what do you do for a living”?

Having  work boosts your confidence and adds value to our self-esteem because we feel that we are contributing members of society.

However,  in our busy production-oriented society it is not unusual for people to become workaholics. We become jazzed by our sense of accomplishment and can’t seem to stop ourselves from go-go-going.

This addiction has even gotten worse with the advent of modern technology where we are no longer spending long hours at an office, but, instead, constantly connected to the internet.

What Is Play?

Play, on the other hand, is engagement in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than for a serious or practical purpose. I have heard play defined as an activity in which the means is more valued than the ends – in other words the process is more important than the outcome.

Fun is a unique concept. Many of us (me included) have lost the ability to just have fun, and we often get lost in the pursuit of a purpose.

The more goals we have for ourselves – work, house, kids, bills – the more their seems to be a diminishing return on our happiness in the fun department.

Finding a Work / Play Balance 

There are countless studies that link work related stress to health problems – heart problems, diabetes, anxiety depression, etc. There are countless studies linking the health benefits of de-stressing through play, as well.

Here’s my advice to you: take a look at the balance in your life between work and play.  The secret is to find a way to have a  balance between them and being able to establish healthy boundaries between the two.

For example, can you leave work early on Fridays and take “me” time? What would happen if you used paper plates one night a week so you didn’t have to do any dishes? And then use that time to play a game?

How can you cut your expenses so that you can work less hours? What hobbies can you take on that will engage you off the clock in learning something that excites you?

18-InesDr. Ines K. Roe has been helping women in transition rediscover themselves for over 20 years. If you’re  been feeling unfulfilled, are frustrated with your sense of accomplishment in midlife, or simply need guidance on your path to holistic well being, join her ecourses or sign up for the Whole Person Wellness program.