THE WORK / PLAY BALANCE
What does finding a “healthy balance” mean to you?
Can you picture what a healthy and balanced lifestyle looks like? Have you found that balance?
If your answer to that question is no – I’m going to reveal how finding a healthy balance has taken me from stressed out and anxious all the time to relaxed and happy. It has completely changed my life! I’m also going to reveal how easy it can be for you to find YOUR HEALTHY BALANCE.
Over the past year I have been pursuing a healthy balance while trying to figure out what “balance” really means. I have the type of personality that tends to be a bit extreme at times.
For example: If I am trying out a new type of diet, I am very focused and disciplined with that new way of eating and living, and generally will not sway from it (unless I decide that it’s not working for me). I am the same with almost everything in my life (including exercise and general lifestyle). This quality of focus and passion is good and does have its advantages, but I can also become a little obsessive, which can result in serious “unbalance”.
What is balanced life?
What does a balanced lifestyle look like to you? Can you picture it in your mind?
When I think of a balanced lifestyle, the first thing that comes to mind is the balance between work and play. Do you work too much? Do you work enough? Do you play too much? Do you play enough?
Contrary to popular belief, play is essential and more important than work BUT work is still important. I believe that if you are doing what you love then it will all seem like play. Yes, there will always be times where you have to do some hard work to achieve a certain goal so that you can play BUT work should never be the reason that there is no play.
♥ A little bit of my story
What does a balanced lifestyle look like to me? What is a work-play balance?
I used to work all the time, even if it wasn’t important work. I would find something work related to do and do it because I didn’t want to “waste time” or be unproductive or lazy. I would work during the week, I would work late at night, I would work on the weekends and I would work in the early hours of the morning. I would wake up thinking about work and I would go to sleep thinking about work. It didn’t really matter how important or unimportant the work task – I would think about it and I would make it a priority over everything else.
Where did the work-work life get me?
I was tired most of the time and if I really think about it, a little depressed. I was not well rested because I never played and I was not truly happy because I was filling most of my time with trivial work tasks that were not getting me anywhere.
How did I change this?
The first thing that I decided to do was have a NO WORK ON THE WEEKENDS RULE. Sometimes there are exceptions but I believe with all of my heart that one should not work on the weekends if at all possible. If your job requires you to work on the weekend then make sure that you have another day during the week to rest, even if it is just for a few hours. Put aside time in your week to rest and play. Schedule it in because it is more important than any work related task, and you need that rest/ play time so that you are able to give your best during “work time”.
When I made this change (no work on the weekends), I found that I would waste less time during the week and get everything that I wanted to achieve done – so that I could rest and have fun on the weekend. It took some time for me to adjust to my new lifestyle but I was happier and healthier because of the shift AND THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.
What is Play?
According to Stuart Brown, author of the book “Play”, these are some of the properties of play:
1. Play is time spent without purpose.
2. Play is something that you lose yourself in, you lose track of time.
3. Play is something that you don’t want to end.
What are some activities that you lose yourself in? What causes you to lose track of time? What is something that you never want to end? What is something that you love to do even though it lacks purpose?
The Importance of Rest and Play
“The to-do list never ends! We can never be ‘done’ and then only let ourselves rest. We can’t let our life start when we are done” says Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. “It’s the process that is so important. We cannot only play and rest when we are done.”
We can’t only start resting and playing when we are finished achieving the goals that we have set for ourselves, or when we feel that we are finally “successful”. It is so important that we let ourselves rest and play during the process of “getting there” because we need to enjoy life and make the most of it – it is the journey that counts the most! The journey counts more than the destination!
“We’ve got to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol,” says Brown “we can’t buy into the lie that we can’t rest until we’re done. There’s such a lot of guilt around feeling or being perceived as lazy.”
Sometimes we have to work hard for what we want, all of the successful people that I know have worked hard to get there. But we have to rest and play as well!
The play-play life: when you only play and never work, one’s life can tend to lack purpose and meaning. If you are lucky enough to be financially secure and don’t need to work for money, then you have the privilege of being able to create the life that you want. Find work that you love to do – even if you don’t earn any money from it- and ask yourself “If I could do anything/ be anything, what would I do/ be?”. If you are already financially free then you get to fill your time however you like. Find your life purpose and meaning – because every single person was made to live for a purpose.
♥ Struggling to identify your purpose?
What is the one thing or things that you dream about or would love to do more than anything? It is in these dreams and desires that your purpose can be identified.
“I want to identify my life’s purpose and create a balanced work-play lifestyle but I have to work all of the time to support myself/ my family – how do I find a balance with a busy schedule?” is an example of a question that I get asked a lot.
The truth is that all of us will almost always be “too busy to rest and play” and be “too busy with working” or “too busy dealing with life to pursue dreams” but we have to make it a priority! We have to make time to pursue our dreams and to rest and play. Work and play will look different during different seasons in your life, and so will pursuing your dreams. There may be season’s in your life when you have to work extra hard in your spare time to make your dreams possible, and there may be season’s in your life when you rest and play more than you usually do.
THE BALANCE OF LOVING LIFE
Finding balance and “falling in love” with your life is so important! Balance will look different during different seasons in life, but it will reduce stress and anxiety and increase both health and happiness.
Balance is all about being open to change; being willing to try new things, being open to recognizing your mistakes and being willing to taking the leaps that will let you pursue the life of your dreams!
Balance is about doing everything in moderation. Sometimes you have to work hard to achieve your dreams in life and to achieve your fitness, diet and health goals. Other times you’ve got to let go – go with the flow, rest & play and enjoy the ride – because life is a journey and not an ultimate destination.
Liezl Jayne xo
Photographs by Liezl Jayne Strydom – for liezljayne.com