Doing Life Together

workLabor Day! Fire up the barbecue, head to the beach or hike that mountain trail! Most of us think of this as a welcomed day off, marking the end of summer and the beginning of school and work for the Fall semester. Football begins and we gear up for another season.

Growing up, it meant putting away the white shoes and pants and pulling out the autumn clothes, a barbecue with friends and a day to rest. But is Labor day about more than a wardrobe change?

When I asked several people the meaning of the holiday, most had no idea-just a free day off for the last long weekend of summer. In fact, the name implies it is a day of work, the day we labor. Some were confused by that. Why call it a day to labor when we are doing the opposite?

Originally Labor Day was meant to honor the working class and proposed by the Central Labor Union of New York. The federal government made it a holiday in 1894 to honor people whose hard work, mostly physical and manual labor, built this country. The holiday has continued to be on the first Monday of September since that date.

So while we have broadened the concept to celebrate work in general, use this holiday to be grateful that you have a job. If you are looking for a job, keep looking. Work is good for your health and well-being. Research (G. Waddell and A.K. Burton, 2006) shows that unemployment leads to a deterioration in mental and physical health. Unemployed people have higher sickness rates and disabilities. And when people return to work, their overall health improves.

While it may not always feel like it and some days the stress of work feels overwhelming, work is good for you when it comes to overall well-being. But we can all use a three-day weekend every now and then. Enjoy yours!!!

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