Early in my career, I began to notice a trend: As I signed up for more and more responsibilities, I experienced increasing amounts of stress. I started to worry about whether I would be able to deliver on all of my promises as I watched my list of commitments grow taller and taller.Because I was an avid runner, I assumed my daily exercise would serve as protection against my growing stress level. However, when I moved into my first executive role, I quickly realized that my running habit was simply not enough to inoculate me against the rising stress of my job.
As I discussed this one day with a colleague, she suggested that I go float. When you go “floating,” you are closed up in a large, light-proof, sound-proof flotation tank filled with a shallow pool of water and Epsom salt, which is five times denser and more buoyant than sea water. This allows you to lie back and float effortlessly on the surface with all parts of your body firmly supported…almost like an astronaut in zero gravity.
At first, I thought my colleague was joking. The idea of spending my lunch hour wearing nothing but a bathing suit, cocooned in a floatation tank, buoyed in total darkness for 60 minutes, seemed a bit on the fringe-even for me.
But I decided to give it a shot, and I spent one hour a week floating for almost six months. It was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life.
The salt in the tank permitted me to lie motionless on my back without effort, close my eyes and listen to whatever music I chose for the hour. When I emerged from the tank, I was literally floating.
When I returned to the office, everyone knew I had just floated because I was so mellow. It was clear that I had found the perfect stress reliever.
Unfortunately, the float store across the street from my office eventually closed its doors due to lack of business (I guess even flotation tank businesses can sink). I wasn’t sure how I was going to replace the serenity I achieved when I escaped into the tank each week.
Interestingly, the same colleague who initially recommended that I float every week went on to recommend an even more powerful form of relaxation, one that has helped me manage my stress ever since. She suggested that I treat myself to a weekly Swedish massage.
Admittedly, I was a bit squeamish about getting a massage at first. At the same time, I knew I needed to find a replacement for my weekly floats.
Being the adventurous person I am, I decided to give it a try-and the rest is history. For the past 15 years, I have been seeing the same massage therapist every week.
The 60 minutes I spend at her center each week are truly grounding, giving me the opportunity to absorb her healing energy and truly relax. While a weekly massage may seem a bit extravagant, I remember reading that Bob Hope received a daily massage-and Bob lived to be 100.
Whether you seek out floating, a regular massage or some other form of relaxation, it is critical to find some way to regulate your stress. After all, stress management is an essential part of a healthy and vital life.
Relaxation isn’t just about peace of mind. It is also a process that decreases the wear and tear on your mind and body from the challenges and hassles of daily life.
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