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Ester Marsh column: Taking the time to relax

This year is flying by! I have been so busy that sometimes I don’t even remember what day or even what month it is! I can’t complain — I have a job that I love from the bottom of my heart, an amazing husband, great kids and family. But sometimes it’s just too much, isn’t it? So just relax — but that is a lot easier said than done. Our society wants us to go, go, go. I was listening to NPR the other day and they were saying that the average person nowadays works 34 hours per week. I was shocked. I don’t know where they surveyed, but I know myself, my husband and friends work a lot more than that in one week. Even when you love your job, you need to take time off to relax and do something different. Our bodies are in need to slow down and “zone out” and relax, yet in real life we have to be focused and “on” all the time. There is nothing wrong with this except when it’s not balanced properly, it can not only hurt your productivity, but it can wreck your health and even your marriage or relationships.

The first week in August, we took 17 Hurley YMCA Warriors to the AAU Junior Olympics Track and Field and they did an amazing job (as you read in the paper.) However, as coaches can attest, it wears you out, physically and mentally. But it was all worth it.

I came home, did laundry, re-packed and left for CrossCountry Camp with WRHS. We went to Carolina Beach and had an amazing five days. As you can ask any kid who went, we worked very hard, but had a great balance of hard work, relaxation and time to “zone out” and just play. I know it did wonders for me. Even though it was very physical around four hours a day, it was different and balanced. The positive effects you reap from a balanced life of work and relaxation are:

• A stronger immune system
• You won’t feel that you are “dragging” all the time
• You will think more quickly and clearly
• Your emotions will be more leveled out
• You will be more efficient at work
• You will boost the ones around you

Relaxation doesn’t have to be inactive. Different people relax differently; personally I relax in all kinds of ways. Sometimes a great run will relax me, other times my Estelatte (yoga-like) classes will relax me, especially on the beach as we did last week. Other ways people can relax are to take up a hobby or go for a walk. Take a warm bath, listen to your favorite music, watch a movie or read a book. Spend quality time with spouse or friend.

One thing to watch out for is negative relaxing. Too many people look for other ways to “relax” such as smoking, drinking alcohol or drugs. Even though you may feel it’s helping you relax, it can be detrimental for your health.

So don’t stress to de-stress! Make time for downtime by adding it into your schedule as you would a doctor’s appointment. Follow a routine that includes exercise and stretches. Give your mind a break by doing something completely different or, at times, nothing at all. And if you have vacation time, take it! It gives you time to recharge, rejuvenate and relax!

Ester H Marsh, Associate Executive Director JF Hurley YMCA

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