Stress Relief

A Healthy Preoccupation

Although I love my job, it is not without its share of stress. As an agency president I work hard to make sure my firm’s clients get everything they need from us and my employees are taken care of as well. When I’m not focused on those things, I’m busy tackling any one of a hundred other items on my to do list. For example, in July I have a book chapter due to my editor; an article due to Healthcare Marketing Report; I’ll be moderating focus groups for a client in the Boston Metro and online focus groups for a hospital client in the southeast; and I have a week of vacation with my family in the mountains of Virginia. All of that has to be integrated into my daily schedule of writing blog posts, keeping up with Twitter, and supervising strategic marketing efforts on behalf of a number of our clients.

When I get home after a day of work, on those days I’m not in a hotel room in some distant city, I seek out relief from the stress I’m carrying around. Some people get their stress relief from exercise or, in the case of my wife, Bikram Yoga (hot yoga, hardcore exercise). For me, leaving the frenetic day behind means heading out into the yard and surveying my gardens. I often joke with my wife that “I’m heading out to walk the estate.” In this case, the estate is a third of an acre in suburban Durham, North Carolina. A corner lot! I’m not necessarily a good gardener, but I thoroughly enjoy the process and I find it incredibly relaxing. Ideally, I would have a chair right in the middle of my gardens where I could just sit and relax, and perhaps enjoy a cool beverage. Even without that, the time I spend in my gardens helps me transition from work to home and put the day behind me.

Each year I work to build upon the foundation I’ve created. Three years ago my daughter and I started our first vegetable garden. We had beginner’s luck that yielded an amazing crop of cucumbers, hot peppers and tomatoes. Last year our vegetable garden was a dud, the victim of drought and inattention while we took a week of vacation. I’m pleased to report that this year we once again have a banner crop of cucumbers, hot peppers (Thai and Jalapenos), and tomatoes. We’ve even had our first Zucchini of the season. We also have a successful herb garden with basil, oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme, cilantro and sage. My wife lays claim to the herbs.

The plant I prize the most in my gardens is a cactus that lives in one of the beds in the front of the house. Years ago I used to admire a massive cactus plan in a bed at a shopping center near my office. Then one day they paved the parking lot and just decimated the cactus. Fortunately, pads from the cactus were brushed to the fringe of the property and took root. Each month when the landscapers mowed, they would cut these fledgling plants down to nothing. Remarkably, they would rebound. One evening after work I dug up one of these rooted cactus pads before the landscapers could get to it, and brought it home to my family. Needless to say they weren’t too impressed with my heroics in rescuing this single scarred-up cactus pad. I planted the pad in one of my Iris beds and it has flourished. I take such delight in its success and my family is now tired of hearing me tell my cactus story. The truth is, I love that cactus. It is part of my family. Enjoy these photos from my gardens and get out in the yard!

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

4 comments on “A Healthy Preoccupation

  1. How timely. Stress relief is such a worthy goal. Today I leave for 5 days at a remote fire lookout tower in SW Oregon. No electricity, water, internet or cel service. Completely unplugged and off the grid. I’ll let you know in a week if I’m totally bored or lifted to a new consciousness. Love your garden story. Good luck on all the August projects!

    • dandunlop

      Dan, I’ve done vacations similar to what you describe in Washington State – at Stehekin in the North Cascade Mountains in late October. No people. No phones. No TV. No cell phones. Just a week of solitude. And I loved it! Enjoy life at the fire lookout tower. After a few days the way in which you look at the world will start to change.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I’m now ready to get out there and mow the yard!

  3. Pingback: Stressed Spelled Backwards « The Healthcare Marketer

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