‘How play turned my life around’

Good Health Choices - - Simply Be -

Nine years ago, Lisa Mur­ray’s life was con­sumed by work. As head of a uni­ver­sity’s re­search fa­cil­ity, she’d spend 50-plus hours a week work­ing, while also do­ing her MBA and ren­o­vat­ing her home. Un­sur­pris­ingly, she ended up burn­ing out

“I couldn’t put a co­her­ent sen­tence to­gether,” she re­calls. “I couldn’t get out of bed, I had no short-term mem­ory,

I was re­ally a shell of my­self. My doc­tor tried to give me anti-de­pres­sants, and I said, ‘No, I’m not un­happy, I’m just ex­hausted.’”

Af­ter leav­ing her job to fo­cus on re­cov­er­ing, a psy­chic read­ing sug­gested that bring­ing more cre­ativ­ity into her life would help re­store her well­be­ing.

“At that time I had no idea what play even was, be­cause when you’ve been in cor­po­rate life for a very long time, that kind of gets pulled out of you,” she says. “It was an or­ganic process. Cook­ing was one of the early [fun projects I tried], be­cause it was some­thing I knew how to do. And I started writ­ing around the same time – I’d only ever writ­ten for work, never just for the plea­sure of it, so I started do­ing that just to un­wind my brain.”

Watch­ing her dog and young niece and nephew re­minded her of the pure joy of be­ing im­mersed in an ac­tiv­ity with no set out­come.

“I’d look at what was fun for other peo­ple and if I felt like it might be fun for me, I’d try it out,” she says. “The things I did like were very small, such as go­ing to the art gallery or just hang­ing out with a friend. Even if I was tired, I’d say yes to any­thing that looked fun, and do it to the level my body could do it. That made a big dif­fer­ence, be­cause it was ac­tu­ally re­gen­er­at­ing rather than tak­ing en­ergy.”

Not only is Lisa now healthy and free of the symp­toms of burnout, she’s hap­pier than she’s ever been. The process has been so pow­er­ful that she’s started a busi­ness that sees her coach­ing in­di­vid­u­als to bring their ideas to fruition and cre­ativ­ity to their per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives. She’s care­ful to limit her work hours so she has time for play.

“The best ideas come when I play,” she says. “Any time that I’m tired or stuck, I’ll find a way to play, and that cre­ates more en­ergy for what­ever it is I need to do.”

‘I’d say yes to any­thing that looked fun, and do it to the level

my body could do it’

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