The president has arguably the most stressful job in America. The pressure of a presidency is immense -- meetings, traveling, lawmaking and diplomacy only begin to scratch the surface. But while running a country leaves little room for downtime, America's leaders, past and present, still try to make some room for recharging.
Finding that time to relax --whether you're the president or climbing the corporate ladder -- isn't only a perk, it's crucial. Mental fatigue and workplace burnout threaten numerous professionals in high-pressure, high-strung jobs, causing serious stress and health risks.
Research has proven that planning a vacation and prioritizing work breaks are key to well-being -- and no one understands that more than our nation's leaders. Below, check out some of the relaxation habits of our former (and our current) presidents. If they can make the time to unwind, then we certainly can, too!
Barack Obama's best relaxation tool is his family.
In a 2009 interview with the BBC, Obama said that taking a few moments to step out of the chaos and into a place of normalcy is the best way to refocus. "Nothing is better at pulling you out of your world than having a couple of children," he said. "I'm grateful I have such a wonderful wife and kids. That's my main form of relaxation now." The current commander-in-chief also said he enjoys a game of basketball or diving into a good novel during downtime.
Abraham Lincoln found solace in a secluded cottage.
Leading a tumultuous country in the midst of a civil war and suffering from personal losses was more than enough trauma for one president. When Lincoln needed some space from stress, he'd often escape to the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C. America's 16th president lived at the location, now known as Lincoln's Cottage, for part of his presidency and would actually commute to the White House.
Dwight D. Eisenhower cultivated calm by working on his golf swing.
Known as one of the top golfing presidents, Eisenhower liked to de-stress on the green. He played more than 800 rounds of the game during his terms, and under his direction, the White House installed a putting green on the South Lawn in 1954. Since then, other golfing presidents such as Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Obama have all used the putting green as a way to unwind.
Herbert Hoover unwound with his fishing reel.
Hoover relaxed from the pressures of a presidency during times of economic duress by fishing. He enjoyed spending time out on the water from the time he was a boy. "When all the routines and details and the human bores get on our nerves, we just yearn to go away from here to somewhere else," Hoover said in a 1951 speech. "To go fishing is a sound, a valid and an accepted reason for an escape. It requires no explanation."
John F. Kennedy blew off steam by sailing.
Growing up spending summers on the water, Kennedy learned how to sail at a young age. His love for the sea transcended his short life and presidency, and he was photographed numerous times de-stressing on the boat with his wife and family. In his remarks at the Australian Ambassador's Dinner for the America's Cup Crews in 1962, Kennedy poetically described his love for the ocean:
I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea -- whether it is to sail or to watch it -- we are going back from whence we came.
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