Why work is good for you

Getting out of bed on a January morning can be tough. It’s cold outside, it’s warm under the duvet and you’re tired after another late night. The very last thing you feel ready for is work. But we should ignore any negative messages our mind and body mischievously send us about having a lie-in – because work is good for us. Indeed, it matters to us far more than we might think.

I was convinced of this a few years ago by a superb occupational therapist who pointed out that if somebody has precisely nothing to do, day after day, they will not thrive. Work gives us meaning, structure, social inclusion, relationships and, usually, a visible outcome or product we can be proud of. It also gives us the money needed to buy the heat, light and food that we need to live.

Of course, it is entirely possible for a resourceful individual to find purpose in life without ever resorting to gainful employment. But there is no denying that for most people, work is the best way of avoiding a life of thumb-twiddling.

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Margaret McCartney’s Blog

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A forum on healthcare policy and professional issues, by Glasgow-based GP and FT Weekend columnist Margaret McCartney.