Stress-Fun Balance Better Than Work-Life Balance?
Work/life balance seems like such an odd thing - basically pitting one against the other. Via stealth, the notion has made Work the 'baddie' and Life the 'goodie'. Does this not instantly set us up to start resenting one of the things that gives life so much meaning?
I had a different thought this morning. I'm a person who seems to find stressful things fun, or at least engaging. This can be to my detriment. High stress work has led to a sustained level of background anxiety that is frankly not healthy and, over time has caused me to flirt with some health issues like mild blood pressure elevation, despite being a fairly fit person.
Keeping a years old promise to myself recently, I resumed training for Triathlon. This is not a sport where half measures will do, we're talking three runs, three cycles and three swims each week. Given everything else in my life (three businesses and one child) that's a heavy dose of additional commitment.
So would this additional stress cause measurable issues for my well-being?
As it turns out, the opposite is true.
I measured my BP the other day and was blown away - 110/70 - the best they ever been!
My working hypothesis is that perhaps the way to handle high stress, is to try to balance it with high fun.
Fun as medicine?
So what does fun look like? Well you get to do you, but for me...I LOVE TRAINING - if I were a dog I'd be a pointer (GSHP). Running and swimming are just the best. If left alone (as we all were in lockdown) I would/did chew up my own carpets. Training and movement are one of the only places I forget the world, or think most clearly. All the strains and stresses disappear, or seem so tiny and easy to solve that they stop being stressful!
So I submit an equation for evaluation - sustainable equilibrium occurs when Life Stress Level (LSL) = Healthy Fun Level (HFL).
Since we're into science maybe you'll try some experimentation to prove, improve or, quite possibly discard this theory?
Now a quick caveat. Fun comes in many shapes and sizes. And some kinds of 'fun' are better for you than others. So, while you get to do you, I'd encourage you to stay on the healthy side of fun... Reading, hanging with friends, sports, etc... (Probably best not to sit in a bar boozing for the same amount of time as you do vetting, as this is likely to have quite predictable adverse results.)
And a question or two...
1. Does mixing up the types of fun have the same benefit?
2. Do some types of fun result in different levels of benefit? ie If the fun was playing card games, would the same quantity of card games work as, say, running? Or would you require 2 x card games?
3. Is this all a load of codswallop and doesn't work at all?
I'd love to hear the results of your experiment in the comments below over the weeks and years.