Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What most women do better than most men...

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out a very common gender inequality - not for the sake of dominance, but rather for the sake of showing the guys out there how they might learn a thing or two from the fairer sex. We're not delving into sensitive territory here despite the title of this offering. We won't be discussing anything that happens behind closed doors per se so if you thought that's where this was heading - I'm about to disappoint you.

You've probably heard something in your lifetime about how most women live longer than most men. Comedians reaching for the low-hanging fruit would say that it's because as women nag men, these men lose their resolve to live. The medical community, however, would tell you the it's due in large part to stress level differences between the sexes. When it comes to relaxing - it would appear that the extra 'x' chromosome really gets the job done.

Before we explore how men might benefit from women's sage practices, let's first get a handle on what we're talking about.

Relaxation [ree-lak-sey-shuhn]. noun.
1. abatement or relief from bodily or mental work, effort, application, etc.
2. an activity or recreation that provides such relief; diversion; entertainment.

I thought about this today because two of my best friends from high school and I recently scheduled a spa day for late March. While each of us treats ourselves to periodic manicures/pedicures, a full-on spa day is "just add water" relaxation that everyone needs every few months. Think of it in terms of something else: you (hopefully) straighten up your apartment or house every day or two to keep the mess and chaos at bay but every week or two, you need to do a deep cleaning and include things like dusting, vacuuming, and organizing so that your in-between cleanings need not be so extreme. Relaxation works the same way. This is our version of the "deep cleaning" if you will but each of us does something each day or two to keep ourselves from being bogged down by the minutiae of every day life.

I thought about the things that I do on a day to day basis that keep me from obsessing about the million and one little things that go wrong in a day; things that just don't go my way (including traffic lights and the actions of other drivers) and elevate my stress levels and keep me from recognizing the million little things that do go my way. Yoga, bubble baths with an entertaining book, shutting off the phone for a few hours, leisurely walks around the neighborhood, guilty-pleasure movies, and of course, spa treatments are all things I make time for because I can shut out whatever is going on in my life. Those few minutes or hours away from things give you incredible perspective.

So, back to our general reason for today's post. Men watch sports, play golf, and fish but of those, fishing is really the only one that might qualify as relaxation. Watching sports is engaging but it's also stressful in itself unless you really don't have a horse in the game. Golf is only partially relaxing. I love the game, don't get me wrong, but it's only relaxing when you manage to hit that perfect shot or if you aren't keeping score. Yes, it's relaxing to be out on the course on a nice sunny day but even if you make the case that it's sometimes relaxing, it's seasonal! Can you play enough golf in the spring and summer to keep you relaxed through the rain and snow of the late fall and winter (and manage to keep your day job)? Well if you can, kudos. I'd say the vast majority of guys would say probably not. Late Fall and Winter are when we all need relaxation most. The skies darken earlier, things cool down, and stress can build up unless you are regularly keeping it in check.

Not long ago, just before the first major Baltimore snow storm in December, I was in the grocery store checkout line as two men behind me began fighting like third graders about who was in line first. They were causing a ridiculous scene and started offering to "take it outside" when I asked them politely and forcefully to get over their little squabble because they would both get the opportunity to check out. I demanded that they both stop speaking as they were only making themselves look more foolish and when one of their wives came to inquire whether her husband had "started it" with a look of pure embarrassment, the man left his wife to complete their purchase. He left the store defeated, embarrassed, and I'm sure, confident that his wife would "have a headache" later on that night. Well done, sir. Would either of these stressed out shoppers have snapped so easily if they had been dealing with their stress levels in positive ways? Maybe not.

So here's the final message - avoid letting your pent up stress embarrass you, gentlemen! Join us in a yoga class (what's not to like about a room full of ladies stretching in tight clothes?), take us up on an offer to get a massage at our favorite spa ( the "massage" parlors on Entourage don't count... come with us and we'll even make sure your appointment is booked with a masseuse), or put on your favorite playlist and go for a walk. You'll save yourself the embarrassment of an inappropriate outburst and possibly even add a few precious years with your better half.

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