July 3, 2008

Relaxology; How Do You Unwind? By Speeding Up or Slowing Down?


New Zealand is one of several countries, including Japan, Australia, the United States and Britain, which has a high percentage of people working 50 or more hours a week. For them, the eight-hour day is an ideal, rather than a reality. Julie Jacobson looks at how some of us unwind after work.



Glen McDonald, 59, coordinator, Vincents Art Workshop

Sleepless nights worrying about where next month's rent is going to come is part and parcel of Glen McDonald's job at Vincents, a community art space in Wellington's cbd. Not long ago the rent was $7000 a year, now it's $40,000 "so it's pretty scary", she says. "But I love it. It would be easy to totally live my job." To compensate for the extra hours she puts in, Glen is a zoo volunteer. "A lot of it is just basic practical stuff, but you can also be doing quite extraordinary things -- interacting with the sun bears or the pandas, feeding meal worms to the cotton- top tamarins. It tends to be quite physical work, which my day job isn't, and it's in the fresh air, which my day job isn't, so it works a treat for helping me relax." She's also a member of the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary and has been known to spend whole days there walking the bush tracks and birdwatching.


John Mansford, 47, senior station officer, Wellington Central

As one of the first on the scene of accidents, John has seen some harrowing things. A fortnight ago, he helped untangle the wreck of a car that had crashed into a bank near the Northland tunnel, killing a young male passenger. Life support for another victim, a young girl, was turned off the following day. Mansford has a teenage son and daughter. "That was particularly poignant . . . very, very stressful." To relax, he heads for the footy field, and occasionally leaps into the chilly waters of Lyall Bay to do a bit of surfing."I'm a third division ref. Everybody says, 'What the hell do you want to do that for?' But get out there and you've got the best seat in the ground. Players bring their own stresses on to the sports field and when they start nutting off, that's when I realise things aren't that bad for me. It's a bit of humour to see how the big things for other people are actually really quite small in the scheme of it all. Afterwards I go home and have a warm bath -- a bath fixes everything." He's also not averse to a bit of housework: "There's nothing I like more when I get home than cranking up the music and getting stuck into the chores. I love using my static mop on the polished timber floors."


Philip Andrew, 50, CEO, executive creative director, Clemenger BBDO

As head of one of New Zealand's biggest ad agencies, Philip Andrew works to extremely tight deadlines. "I learnt some years ago not to take work home. I also learnt that the day's not over when you walk in the door at home," he says. At home, he's in dad mode -- his four children all get some attention when he arrives home. One of the first things he does is take off his watch: "I make a point of ditching that as it helps to unchain mentally from the demands of my diary." Weekends for the past nine years have been about karting with son Elliot -- "it's a masculine and testosterone-filled experience for him growing up in a family of sisters" -- and next month the pair plan to learn to fly. His other passion is a 1958 Century Resorter 16 V8 mahogany speedboat, Principessa. "There's not a man that doesn't break into a broad, beaming smile when I start her up. To float in the harbour in something as beautiful as her, and look back at the city, is stress relief of the finest kind."


Lucy Balfour, 25, dancer, Royal New Zealand Ballet

Most mornings, Lucy is working up a sweat in tights and practice pumps. She's on her toes all day -- literally -- from 9.30am till 5.30pm. There's a 90-minute dance class every morning, followed by an aerobic or cardio workout. When the company is touring, Lucy's day generally starts at lunchtime and finishes when the last curtain falls -- about 10pm. Leaving work behind begins with Friday drinks at the Matterhorn with her boyfriend. On Sunday, it's a leisurely cafe brunch. An occasional massage -- "I zone out to the music and love the smell of the oils" -- and a lavender pillow spray also work wonders.


Rupert Watson, 60, self- employed masseur, Feldenkrais practitioner, contract speech writer

Though one of Rupert's jobs is to destress other people -- he's pummelled the flesh of politicians, zookeepers and media stars, and offered words of advice to Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast -- he's not immune to tension in his own life. "It's all the organising . . . mainly trying to tie all the ends together and keep up with fitting it all in." To "keep sane", he runs, spends time in cafes and plays the clarinet. "It used to be running that kept it all together, with a bit of music . . . now it's the other way around, so there's the occasional seasonal, blood-thumping cross-country races with Scottish Harriers, and then there's the music. I play in a couple of amateur orchestras (including the Wellington Chamber Orchestra) and I used to play in a rabble-rousing carnival street band, but decided to do the real thing -- join the army and get a red jacket." He is one of three clarinettists with the Trentham- based 7th Battalion band, which took part in the Tribute 08 honour march for Vietnam vets and their families at Queen's Birthday Weekend.


Lee Donoghue, 24, Shortland Street's Hunter McKay.

When Lee Donoghue's character in long- running television soap Shortland Street was seen frolicking shirtless, Daniel Craig-style in a recent storyline, there were no clues as to the effort that had gone into the shoot. Yet Donoghue and the crew spent three 12-hour days filming the episodes. "It's a pretty fast turnaround show -- we basically have to get a scene finished every 20 minutes, so it's full on. You have to be on the ball constantly." When he's not working it's all about R and R -- retail therapy and running. A boy that shops? " I love the Swarovski crystal shop. There's nothing quite like wandering around shops to clear my head of work-related things, and I'm quite partial to a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. Otherwise, cranking up the iPod and going for a run in the fresh air always works a treat for me. I enjoy a bit of glam rock when I'm running, so my iPod has a great selection of Guns N' Roses, White Snake, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden. Some days when you have been on your feet for nine hours on set, then running is just not an option. That's when you opt for the glass of wine."


Logan Taylor, 36, Life Flight Westpac Rescue helicopter crewman

No two work days are the same for Logan -- if he's not helping out on a search and rescue mission, he might be organising the transfer of a critically ill patient, attending a car crash, or getting in some training. "Depending on the missions we fly, some days are more stressful than others, but saving lives is very rewarding. I often bike to and from work, so an easy ride home helps me process the day's events. In my spare time I like to get stuck into some longer 100-kilometre road rides, and give it heaps. Once I walk through the door at home, playing with my two kids (aged one and four) and catching up with my wife always puts things in perspective and helps me unwind. Then, of course, there's the kids' bath to take care of, dinner to help with . . . and then chill out on the couch."


Helen Clark, 58, Leader of the Labour Party

She's got one of the most public jobs in the country and her diary reads like a handbook for exhaustion, but even the PM admits there has to be some balance. Weekends, if there are no official duties to attend to, she can be found catching up on some kip or at Waihi Beach where time with her parents is "treasured". Longer breaks will find her outdoors, usually cross-country skiing. "I have skied every New Zealand winter since 1991 at the Snow Farm near Wanaka. It's therapeutic to be in the back country with no one around." She's also a big opera fan, noting that it's a perfect counter to her usual day-to-day routines. "Grand opera appeals because it canvasses the whole range of human emotions -- love/ hate; envy/compassion; humour/sadness."


(c) 2008 Dominion Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.