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Men, it must be said, have it tougher than most women think. After a rough patch at work, what de-stress options do we have open to us? A glass of whisky or a round of golf, perhaps? Frankly, though, one dram too many, or even a poor round of 18 holes, and our heads are no clearer than they when we started.

De-stressing, then, can be very difficult when work pressures are pulsing at their maximum. I’ve long sought a solution to this conundrum, and finally, I hope, I’ve come up with something that works.

Food for thought

Adopting a diet more suited to times of stress was one potential answer, suggested by a female friend.  She is a strong believer in “we are what we eat” and that we have a responsibility, to our bodies, to eat healthily. I should change to a diet of raw vegetables and a selection of seasonal fresh fruits, I was told. This, apparently, would help counteract the negative effects of my stress by helping my body to de-tox. Unfortunately, her suggestion was unworkable. When I returned home after a really rough day, with my deadline pressing ever closer, I had no desire to stand in the kitchen chopping vegetables or peeling fruit. And besides, being uber-busy, I had very few opportunities to buy the ingredients. In times of stress, surely nothing beats ordering a dish of butter chicken and a couple of garlic naans, and flopping down in front of the television to watch a movie.

Stretch, bend...sleep

“Try getting more exercise then,” she told me, when I pointed out the shortcomings of her dietary suggestions. I tried, but it’s so difficult to find a gym that’s accessible and open after a long day. Yoga seemed like a great alternative, so I decided to give it a go. I even found a daily class, in a hall just a couple of minutes’ brisk walk away from my place. But it started at 6.00 am. Early starts have never been my forte, especially when my sleep has been reduced by mulling over work-related issues while lying in bed. To my surprise, yoga is a lot tougher than it looks. It may lack the impact, the obvious excitement, plus the potential for knocks and scrapes of traditional male team sports but, after sleeping-in on the third morning and missing my session, I developed muscle aches like I’ve never had before. That was the end of my yoga career and another method for reducing the stress in my life.

For body and soul

But, by chance, I recently hit upon what appears to be a wonderful way of de-stressing. I was out buying a few essentials when I thought I’d take a look in one of the many salons offering services in Indiranagar. Having been very busy, I have to admit that I’d let myself go slightly; I hadn’t, for a while, taken time out to get my hair cut. Normally I refuse to pay anything more than Rs. 30 for a trip to the barber. But I decided, this once, to treat myself to a more stylish cut by a young, well-presented hairdresser in a pleasingly calm, appealingly lit, air-conditioned salon.
I’ve never previously understood the bonding between some women and their hairdresser, but a free cup of coffee and some surprisingly entertaining small talk have now given me an insight. The scalp massage during the shampooing felt divine. The experience took much longer than my usual haircuts but was genuinely relaxing, and, I’ll admit, worth the extra money.

That was just the start of my pampering. My feet have long suffered from calluses and a dearth of care and attention. Nonetheless, I’d always dismissed manicures and pedicures as -- sexist though it sounds -- activities for women. But, thinking of myself modern and metrosexual, I decided to book myself a pedicure, to rid my feet of their hard, dry skin.

Actually, choosing which type of pedicure to go for is, in itself, a tricky thing to do; I was surprised to learn there are so many options. A French pedicure, it turns out, includes nail painting (which I didn’t deem necessary). I plumped for the paraffin pedicure. After having my toe nails clipped, the dead skin on my heels was scrubbed away and my feet were then embalmed in warm wax and towels. The process took 90 minutes and was Zen like. My feet felt soft, like new.

This left me with a much better understanding of why pampering is such a popular pastime. It was genuinely relaxing to sit there, in pleasant surroundings, and have somebody treat me. I considered the maths while I was sat there; the money I was spending on the pedicure meant that I'd have to forego a couple of whiskies later, but I really didn’t mind.  I’m pretty sure that, the next time I’m feeling stressed, I’ll head back to a spa for a massage or perhaps another pedicure.

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