People’s health and well-being are improved if they are able to engage in activities that are meaningful and pleasurable

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Does all work and no play make Jack a dull boy? According to occupational therapy, Jack may not be dull but perhaps his health could be affected.

People’s health and well-being are improved if they are able to engage in activities that are meaningful and pleasurable and that health is a balance of work, play and leisure.

Recent research identified the essential components of playfulness in adults as creativity, curiosity, humour, spontaneity and pleasure.

Playfulness is an internal predisposition that enables adults to incorporate play in both work and leisure activities. Different activities can be pleasurable for different people and can also be pleasurable at one time and more of a chore at another.

Take cooking for instance: cooking dinner for the family, after a long day at work is not quite as pleasurable as cooking for friends and family on the weekend.

If someone fails to gain meaning or pleasure in his work, he may become burnt out or his performance may be affected. It’s finding that balance between play and work that is important.
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Western society needs to acknowledge that leisure and pleasure are not wastes of time. They can renew people’s energy to meet daily challenges and often motivates people to increase their performance. All work and no play can make Jack not only a dull boy but one whose health is in jeopardy.

Making time for a balance of work, play and leisure is not easy. Relationships with others, both at work and in your personal life, are an integral part of whether life will seem manageable and enjoyable. Nurturing and fostering interpersonal relationships takes time and energy. You may feel fragmented or overwhelmed if you are not achieving a sense of balance.

Your work and relationships will suffer if you are not managing to meet your needs and responsibilities, in addition to considering the needs of others at your workplace and in your personal life. Of course you cannot do everything! Ask yourself, “Am I doing things that are the most important to me? Am I spending time with those I love? Am I making time for both work and play?”

Having balance of work, play and leisure in your life will be easier if you:

* Know your values
* Identify priorities
* Reduce unnecessary things
* Set some goals and make a plan
* Revisit priorities and goals occasionally

A value is important to the person who holds it. What changes with time and growth is the ranking of values in relation to other values.

Values are expressed:
* By ways you talk and act; by ways you use time and energy
* Through actions at work and play (leisure)
* Through choices in the market place Priorities are activities and relationships that you give first attention to because you have ranked them as highly important. When setting priorities, ask yourself:
* Is this important? To whom? Is this urgent? To whom? Is this necessary at all?
Unnecessary things in your life include some stressors, unresolved conflict, bad habits, poor planning skills and unrealistic expectations. For example, do you have unnecessary conflict with a coworker or have unrealistic expectations by striving for perfection?

Finding balance with your work and personal life, including play, can be accomplished.
* Select goals and dreams that support values.
* Do things that will bring you closer to your goals.
* Take action to do things out of your comfort zone. Be willing to take some risks.
* Respond to challenges and disappointments positively. “What can I learn from this?”
* Share your needs with others and seek their support. Be willing to ask for help. Getting a handle on the stress in your life will help you make time for work and play and feel good about your general well-being.
* Locate the sources of stress
* Work off the effects of stress physically
* Maintain a healthy lifestyle
* Talk with someone you trust about your concerns or problems
* Accept what you cannot change
* Organize what you can, without being a perfectionist and unduly hard on others
* Realize that you do not control the emotions or behavior of others; you influence others
* Avoid self-medication and the misuse of alcohol and drugs
* Make time for recreation and for having fun
* Do something for others
* Take one thing at a time
* Compromise. You don’t always have to have it done your way. Agree to disagree.
* Get away from it for a while (this can be done on a tight budget with limited time.) Ask yourself these questions.
* What things cause me stress (my stressors)? How might I reduce my stress load?
* What are the most personal things (work, activities, relationships) to me?
* Is my personal life in balance? Do I feel good about my personal life?
* Is my work life in balance? Do I feel good about my work life?
* Am I spending time doing things (work, activities, relationships) most important to me?

One normally has to work for a living. To live a full life, one also needs play and leisure. Leisure time is important because it helps us breathe and gives us the opportunity to discover ourselves and grow. It also satisfies the needs that are not fulfilled at work. Sometimes we are stuck in jobs that are tedious and lacklustre.

Taking time off to indulge in what interests us makes us a better person. We all know the importance of the three Rs of leisure - relaxation, recreation and rest. They help us have a positive attitude to life, develop a balanced perspective and make us look at situations in a new way.

Deadlines are always looming and the clock never seems to stop ticking. So what can be done in order to balance work and relaxation? Well, the first thing you can do is prioritise tasks. We often end up doing work that is urgent but not important. Keep your focus on the important stuff, once that is out of the way, you can decide what deserves your attention next.

Plan ahead: The best plans are written down on paper. The best method is to first make a list of all the things you have to do and then categorise them into A, B and C lists basing on their importance. Once you are through with a task, be sure to cut it out from the list - this gives a feeling of great satisfaction. When you plan ahead, you will be able to estimate the time needed to complete your work commitments. This will help you assess the best time to take a holiday.

Learn to say no: Be more realistic about how much work you can take on. Be honest with yourself about the length of time it'll actually take to complete a project and about the number of projects you can handle at any given moment. . Keep your focus on the most important aspects of your own job.

.Exercise: It is a well-known fact that when we are active, the body produces endorphins which keep us healthy and happy. Half an hour spent at the gym will help keep your thoughts off work, thus providing relaxation as well as health.

Take up the long-neglected hobby you enjoy: The right pastime can be so absorbing that it takes your mind off work and helps you relax. Group activities such as tennis or basketball strengthen your bonds with your colleagues apart from helping you unwind.

Aim to experience something new each day: It can be as simple an activity as tasting a new dish or viewing sunset with your friends or even taking a walk alone in the park. Discover your inner self.

You might love your work immensely, but remember that it is only a part of your life. In order to lead a well- balanced life, one should have interests outside work. Indulging in these activities also reduces stress and makes us develop a positive attitude toward life. Relaxing and having fun need to be a permanent part of our lives - they make life worth living.

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