What does recovery mean to you?
Does it mean rest? Relaxation? Time off? Healing? All of these could apply. What is my definition of recovery?
RECOVERY: Giving your body, mind, and spirit everything that it needs to recuperate after periods of stress. Giving yourself time, space, and permission to allow different parts of you to affirm this recovery.
What kind of stress depends on what type of recovery you may need. Do you lift weights too much? Maybe you need some time off from that. Maybe you work too hard with your mind and need some time-off to recharge. Sometimes our daily lives are so hectic that recovery is not possible without changing critical factors in our lifestyles. Maybe you are in an abusive relationship that is creating havoc in your emotional world. Is your job physically exhausting you beyond your capabilities? Maybe your diet isn’t one that advocates good health. There are several factors that will determine your ability to recover. Let’s look at a few of them.
DIET: Diet is critical to recovery. WHERE you need the recovery may depend on what types of things you are working on. Fresh, whole foods are best for everyone. A wide variety of foods are good for everyone. After that, things start to differ. Are you primarily a mental worker? Possibly more fruits, veggies, plant fats, etc. Doing a lot of physical stuff? You may be drawn to more protein and animal products. Just make sure whatever you eat feels right for you. If it is non-processed and properly prepared (ie: not fried, roasted, pasteurized, boxed, etc), trust your taste buds to let you know what is right for you.
SLEEP: Sleep is obviously huge. This simple step is missed by a lot of us. We either get distracted and busy, or we get overly stimulated by stress and our environments. The end result? Most of us don’t sleep enough. We “get by” on a certain number of hours. Sleep is our bodies recovery system. It is like recharging a battery. Sleep with the seasons if possible. A lot of new research is pointing to stimulation of hormones by our favorite electronic gadgets. Blue lights, computer screens, microwaves, HD tv’s, etc. People attempt to sleep next to power strips, cellphones, computer cords, etc. These things all have the ability to “trick” our bodies into hyping up. This is a tough one to crack. As far as the lighting goes; there are really only two solutions. One is to avoid looking at these lights past about 7 at night to let your body naturally wind down. The other is to get an inexpensive pair of “blu-blocking” sunglasses. These things block out the stimulating effects of the light while allowing you to check email, write blogs, surf online, etc. Making your bed an “electronics-free zone” will also produce noticeable improvement in your sleep. Most of us sleep in the midst of dozens of wireless networks these days. Turning off your wireless at night is a great thing to do. Getting grounding mats is another wise choice. These things help discharge static build-up and negate much of the negative effects of airborne wireless devices.
EMOTIONS: E-motions are HUGE. Emotions can dramatically interfere with our ability to relax, unwind, and sleep. Are you constantly in conflict over something that happened to you last year? Are you fighting with your spouse? Do you worry about the kids or your job? Mental and emotional states are big. Technically, they are separate categories but I am throwing them together here. Figure out where your stress is coming from. There are only two places. Externally or internally. They are tied together, yet distinct. We can both have the same experience and perceive it differently. Maybe flying down the highway is fun for me. Maybe it freaks you out. The external event is the same, yet the stress created in you will be dramatically more. So what is the point? Figure out what stresses YOU out. Is it something coming from the outside? Things like a bad work environment, bad relationships, financial pressures, working too much, etc can all fall into this category. These are things that tend to stress most of us out. Internal events may include worrying, depression, emotional conflicts with family members, God, or friends, and thinking too much in general. All of these can interfere with your ability to recover.
ACTIVE RECOVERY: Active recovery would refer to things you can do to “aid” your recovery process. These include working-in exercises like qigong, tai-chi, gentle stretching, slow walking, etc. They also include bodywork such as massage and physical therapy. Things we can do during the day to aid our bodies in their processes.
TIME: This one has the potential to be annoying, yet it is a huge part of the process. We live in a society that is driven by time-constraints. Everything takes up time. Recovery is no exception. Are you willing to put in the time to recover? Are you willing to change some of your other plans? Sometimes intense periods of stress require large periods of time to recover from. Sometimes we take our boat pretty far away from shore before we realize that we need to get back to the island and sleep a bit. Sometimes we end up having to sleep on that boat on the way to the island =) Let’s create the time to dedicate to recovery.
Recovery is a big part of life guys. Ultimately, the goal is to not wear yourself thin in the first place. Take steps to ensure that you are living within your own limits. We are human beings that sometimes choose to live more as robots or machines. We need good food. We need sleep. We need connection and love. We need time off. We need time off. These really are not optional. Let’s give our bodies, minds, and spirits room to recover =)