Mind & Body

Are You Taking Life Too Seriously?

Feeling overworked and underjoyed? To maintain physical, mental and spiritual health, make time for some serious fun in your life.
Are You Taking Life Too Seriously?
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The Stress Factor
If we rarely catch a break, our bodies end up in a chronic state of arousal. "We're built for the fight-or-flight response to stress, but we're also built to need time to recover from it," says Heaney. "Doing without that lessens our ability to fight off disease and takes a toll on energy levels and vitality." Chronic stress leads to a range of debilitating conditions, such as fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, back pain, headache, stomach upset, depression, hypertension and heart disease.

"All work and no play makes us more than dull--it makes us dead," declares Jerry May, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Nevada in Reno.

For the last 15 years, May has been studying a group of about 3,000 high-achievers in fields such as business, medicine, law and athletics. He's found that those who incorporate more play into their days aren't just happier, they're more productive, have higher self-esteem and less stress, and they sleep better, among other benefits.