A series of courses is being set up to help people achieve the right balance of work and play to improve their health and quality of life.

The scene is an all too familiar one: A person works long hours in a busy and stressful job and when they get home, they are too exhausted to think about doing something just for the fun of it.

It is enough of an effort simply to have dinner and go to bed, without thinking about doing a painting or some other form of arts and crafts.

But a new course called PlayWorks, which offers creativity and play workshops, may change all that.

The course has been developed by sisters Zoe and Una Nicholson who recently formed a not-for-profit company called LifeWorks.

LifeWorks uses a wide variety of means to support people in finding and following their life path and creating the world they want.

The duo combine their main jobs as NHS manager and costume designer with running the company which is based in Lewes.

Zoe has enjoyed a ten-year career in the NHS, has been a member of the Government's Modernisation Team and now works part-time as director of the modernisation team for NHS services in Brighton and Hove.

Una trained at the Jacque Lecoque Theatre School in Paris. She now works part-time in the costume industry and has worked on productions such as Pride And Prejudice, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and other dramas.

PlayWorks is a seven-week workshop designed to help people rediscover their inner creativity and sense of play at a time when the UK is rated the hardest working community in Europe.

The sessions aim to support participants to achieve a better balance between work and life.

Una said: "People in the UK now work longer hours than our European counterparts. Many of us work so hard we have somehow forgotten what we love doing in our spare time.

"PlayWorks offers an opportunity to have fun and remember those elements of ourselves that are creative and love to just play."

Each week participants will follow a different theme using movement, play, colour and singing. It will be a chance to relax, have fun and rediscover ideas and feelings that may have been lost.

Zoe said: "We want to help people make some time for themselves. If they are spending too much time working, their playful side can be suppressed. Our job is to release it again.

"We want people to feel good about themselves. In the long term, it will be good for their health and wellbeing and help reduce stress.

"It is important to be able to balance your life between work and play otherwise you will end up run-down.

"Although many people like their job and are fulfilled by it, the PlayWorks scheme helps them participate in things that are not quite so serious, be it dancing, singing or painting.

"We won't be too structured during the sessions, we will let the people taking part decide what they want to do. After all, the whole idea is for people to have a good time."

A half-day taster session takes place tomorrow at the Subud Centre in Station Street, Lewes, from 2pm to 7pm. The course itself starts from September 15 in Lewes and sessions will take place on Sunday afternoons.

Zoe said: "We thought that was a good day of the week because it is the time when people are starting to think about going back to work again in the morning.

"The course will help take their minds off that for a while and get them thinking about something nicer."

A study commissioned by the Trades Union Congress in March 2002 showed that one in 25 men work more than 60 hours a week, one in ten men work more than 55 hours a week and one in four men work more than 48 hours a week.

Research published by the Economic and Social Research Council in May 2002 shows 46 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women said they frequently worked more hours on top of their basic week.

Eighty-three per cent of those who worked long hours said they did so in order to meet deadlines and pressures.

For more details about the PlayWorks course, call 01273 487090.