Recovery is science wrapped in art.
So many people I know are Type A’s who dive headfirst into everything. There they are, entrenched in their work and athletic life, leaving little or no time to recover.
In order to achieve our dreams and live life to the fullest we must incorporate mindful recovery into everything we do.
Athletically, this is based in science. Nothing good happens when we workout. After an intensely satisfying session we’ve stretched, stressed, and torn our muscles, preparing them to rebuild stronger. The key is to give them time to rebuild and not just get right back into breaking them down again and again.
Professionally this is as much psychology as anything else. Weekends don’t count when you’re in it neck deep all week. Our responsibilities stay with us when we clock out, never too far away from our psyche.
A week ago, my friend Mario got a cold. That might not have been so significant except for the fact that this morning he’s running the Philadelphia Marathon.
Mario posted his concern on Facebook, worried that potentially a week sidelined by illness may derail his plans. The beauty of the post was that every single person who responded encouraged him to relax and stop worrying, that the recovery would do him good and that his goals were still well within reach.
I was one of those who provided words of encouragement, and I wonder how many others, like me, easily gave advice we would find difficult to follow ourselves.
So, how to break free?
As for work, I will tell you with complete certainty you cannot count on weekends to really recharge. In the case of a Monday through Friday schedule you simply must regularly schedule midweek time for yourself, not to run errands and catch up on life, but to do something you love to do.
Going to the dentist is not recovery.
And, those things you already do that you feel offer you respite, like spending time at home with family and friends, are all good, but you can take your recovery to new levels by trying new and different things.
See what the mall looks like on a Wednesday afternoon, visit a local town you haven’t been to in a while on a Tuesday morning, or, as I did a few weeks ago, check out the local bowling alley with your colleagues on a Friday afternoon.
The positive effects of true time off are rooted in the joy of playing hookey. There’s a dose of defiance and anti-establishment combined with our basic and often overlooked need to play necessary for this to work. You must fully embrace making a selfish choice in an environment that values selflessness.
Call it what it is – playtime.
Recently a number of coworkers have discovered a local playground they’ve begun visiting at lunchtime. The brief escape provided by a swing set and slide recharges them, and they return with energy, enthusiasm, and most importantly a genuine smile, armed to take on the afternoon.
You shouldn’t have to twist your own arm to recover. It should be as much a part of your week as work, working out, and life’s other obligations.
Let me know how you schedule recovery into your life, and if you don’t yet, let me know how you plan to embrace this wonderfully selfish pursuit and how it affects your life.
When you take time to recover, the science behind it will make you feel better. You however are the artist who must paint this important color into your masterpiece.