Today’s society glorifies the grind and busyness but we rarely talk about the other side of the coin, rest and recovery. The internet and social media are packed with stories about how hard people are working, hitting 12 to 14 hour days at the office, putting themselves through intense workouts, and rarely sleeping. Hard work is necessary to achieve whatever goals we have in life whether that is in our career or trying to run our first marathon. After years of destroying myself and putting myself through the grind and busyness, I now believe we need to make recovery a priority. If our minds and bodies are constantly on the go, we will eventually become burnt out, stressed out and our health will suffer. By prioritizing my recovery, I see plenty of benefits for my health, productivity, and relationships.
1. Optimal benefits from your fitness routine.
Our bodies and muscles do not grow during intense workouts; this happens when we sleep and recover. Not getting adequate rest also results in elevated cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol will raise inflammation in the body and disrupt your immune system. It will also cause the body to hold on to excess body fat, which is exactly what most people are trying to get rid of with exercise. Our fitness routines need to improve our lifestyle but if we are constantly inflamed and in pain, our well-being will suffer. If you are someone that feels they have to hit it hard every time they go to the gym try taking a step back and doing a yoga class or going for a hike. Sometimes the best thing for your long-term health is to slow down. I know this can be difficult; I’ve been there myself. Once you decide to take a few days off or try a lower impact routine and your body will come back stronger and your endurance improves.
“He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.” Ben Franklin
2. Increase productivity by taking a step back
Our minds are much more apt to figure out the answer to that difficult problem while we are on a walk or disengaged from the office; let the subconscious figure out what the conscious mind can’t. The mind cannot process all of the information we have thrown at us on a daily basis. We need to have time to sit back and reflect. Even some of the greatest thinkers of all time, such as Charles Darwin, only worked four hours a day and used walks to process everything. We are not meant to go all out all the time. There is a lot of research that shows we only have a limited amount of mental resources. In order to take advantage of these, we must recharge properly. Not only does this mean stepping away on a daily basis but also unplugging from the office for vacation. To reduce stress in work and life, fully engaged and limit distractions while at the office and on vacation. Your work will improve and your stress levels will go down at the same time.
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” Bruce Lee
3. More engaged in our relationships
If we do not properly detach from all the craziness of life, our relationships will suffer. This is especially true when it comes to our smartphone usage. Multiple studies show that people’s smartphone usage is much higher than they believe. One study showed that people check their phones over 85 times per day, which is twice as many times as they expected. When we are spending time with friends and family we need to be engaged in the situation. Our relationships are one of the key contributors to a fulfilled life. If we want to make the best of them, we need to get out of our digital world and off social media. Next time you are at dinner, have everyone put your phone away. If your kid is searching for attention don’t just pawn them off with electronics. Spend time with them and watch the wonder in their eyes.
“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” Gretchen Rubin
I used to think that I always needed to be doing more. I spent weekends worried about what was going on at work and in the markets. I felt all of my workouts had to leave me on the ground or it wasn’t helping me. Now that I’m older, I value my recovery practices just as much as hard work. I meditate and do breath work daily. I prioritize my sleep, I get in a float tank once a month to completely reset my brain and body, and I’m not afraid to take a day off from the gym and just go for a walk. I am working on taking breaks from technology to be more engaged with those around me. It is a struggle but at least I am aware of the problem. If we don’t prioritize rest and recovery, we will never be able to fully engage in our life. These are the practices I have put in place and I encourage you to experiment with some of your own to see what works.
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Originally published at www.thelonggame.co