6 Not-So-Guilty Pleasures for Maintaining Balance

Today on Facebook I was bemoaning the fact that I had destroyed a week’s worth of running and working out with the slice of pizza I had for lunch. Several friends, bless their hearts, encouraged me by saying that all things should be done in moderation and a little self-indulgence now and then is a good thing.

It got me thinking about the importance of balance in life. Public relations executive is the 7th most stressful job in America this year, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Communication work of any kind fits in that category, if you ask me. We work to maintain relationships, to craft high-profile messages, to meet the needs of both our clients and our audiences, and we’re often called upon to smooth over the damage others do.

Recently I decided I need to get more regular exercise, not only for my physical health but also for my mental health. I’ve found that a good cardio workout is a great stress reliever, so I’m making the time for it several times a week.

But then I started thinking about other not-so-guilty pleasures that help me maintain balance in my life. (OK, one could argue that I’m not really so great at maintaining balance, but I’m trying to get better at it.) Here are the other things I do for myself fairly regularly. I share them to get you thinking about what you do, or could do, to balance out the stress of your job.

  • A glass of wine. Or maybe two. I’m a late-comer to the wine party. I didn’t drink any alcohol until I was in my mid-30s. But I’m so glad I learned to enjoy wine! In moderation, it can be good for you and it sure is fun to pair a good wine with dinner. I also enjoy a beer from time to time – on a hot summer day, at the beach, at a baseball game – but wine is my go-to adult beverage.
  • A cup of tea in the morning. Or maybe two. I’m not a coffee drinker, but nothing gets my morning started like a strongly brewed cup of English or Irish breakfast tea. It’s the only caffeine I get during the day, so I don’t feel too guilty about what it’s doing to my heart rate.
  • Dining at great restaurants. I can’t think of many things I enjoy more than taking someone to dinner, especially someplace with really good food. I’m fortunate to live in Richmond, Va., which has an unusually large number of great restaurants for a city of its size. The food, the setting, the atmosphere, the company – I enjoy it all and find myself a little sad when it’s time to leave.
  • Old TV shows. I don’t watch much network TV. Instead, I surf the channels looking for blasts from the past. I get transported back in time to New Rochelle in the 1960s (The Dick Van Dyke Show), Chicago in the 1970s (The Bob Newhart Show), or  Dodge City in the late 1800s (Gunsmoke). Before long, whatever was troubling my mind is gone, at least for a while.
  • Baseball games. Watching baseball actually helps me process things. It doesn’t require a lot of concentration, so my mind is free to review, analyze and resolve whatever is occupying it. I’m a New York Yankees fan since childhood, but I also enjoy going out to the park to see the Richmond Flying Squirrels play their brand of the game.
  • Bill Gaither. He’s a legend in gospel music, especially Southern gospel music. He’s also made a fortune by assembling multiple generations of gospel singers and musicians for “homecoming” videos. When I’m home on Saturday night, I catch one or two hours of these videos on one of those high-number cable networks. The music soothes my soul and often touches me deeply. And we all need our souls soothed from time to time.

Those are my not-so-guilty pleasures. What are yours?



2 Responses

  1. Great post, Robert! Here are my additions:
    1. Reading a friend’s blog on Friday afternoon instead of doing my overdue expense report.
    2. Making sure I plan one early-evening event almost every week, so I’m sure to leave the office on time.
    3. Not wasting more than a minute musing over why PR is #7 instead of #1 on the stressful job lists.

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