A few years ago, working in a corporate field, I was a hyperactive social workaholic. I had to be constantly active, do something useful and couldn't stand to spend time on my own.
It sounds harsh, but it was my reality.
However, after burnout hit me, it made me question my efficiency.
Was I actually at the highest of my performance?
Now, thinking about that time, it seems like I barely detached from work. I didn't really rest, relax or devote time to a hobby (Tbh I didn't have any hobby and didn't have an idea what it could be).
Now I don't do this anymore.
It became clear I could only perform well and achieve the goals I set for myself if I paid as much attention to my recovery as I did to my performance.
But what is recovery?
Recovery is when all body systems return to baseline or pre-stressor levels. At the same time, internal recourses lost or threatened by stress, such as energy, self-efficacy or positive mood, are gained or restored.
That means that recovery isn't only about spending a day in the spa or binging on social media after a busy day, although both could be valid options for the recovery process; however, to achieve the level of recovery described above it requires recovery-associated activities to become a part of the daily lifestyle.
And these activities can be split into 4 elements. Check each one below:
Can you stop thinking about work after work?
Before, I struggled with this one. After work, my brain was still busy resolving job-related issues or going through the next day's to-do list.
I was like a laptop in sleep mode. The lid was closed; still, the screen and fans kept working.
Now it looks different for me. I made it clear I don't want to feel stressed trying to be mentally in a few "places" at the same time. Every time I intentionally chose to be present during the dinner and our evening kitchen talks.
That's why I also decided to shut off instagram at earlier hours because it's part of the working process, and I want to feel relaxed following my evening routine.
Relaxation is when you do something that requires zero challenge and/or effort. For someone, it can be watching a movie; for another, taking a light walk in a beautiful natural environment; for the 3rd one reading a book; for someone else, meditating.
Important is that whatever you do it should feel relaxing for the body and mind.
I like watching interviews with various experts on youtube, but I noticed it doesn't relax me, it’s still too close to work. Instead, I do some chit-chatting with my hubby, journal thoughts and read a few pages of a fiction book.
Mastery refers to off-job activities that distract from the job by providing challenging experiences and learning opportunities in other domains. Typical examples include learning a language, playing a musical instrument, painting or pursuing sports.
That's why I love doing crossfit. It keeps me continuously busy building new internal recourses such as skills, competencies, and self-efficacy and contributes to my positive mood. Which is what mastery is all about.
However, as you can guess, mastery isn't effortless. It requires self-control to do something instead of following the impulse to spend a lazy evening at home.
Control is choosing an action to pursue during leisure time and when and how to do it.
Before, during my off-job time, I was often out at various dinners, parties and exhibitions. I didn't want to miss a thing. Then I realised it drains me. I didn't allow space to slow down and spend time sitting with my thoughts and feelings, which I found later was a very enjoyable thing.
That was one of the biggest shifts over the last 3 years. I started spending more time on my own and learnt to say no to other things that don't fit my agenda.
And that's what, for me, control is about - setting your mind where you want, whether slowing down and doing something relaxing or becoming active and mastering some skills.
Take a few minutes to answer the below questions:
- Which element of recovery is most frequent in your daily life, and what actions do you associate with it?
- Name the least frequent element of recovery.
- How could you balance your recovery?
- What is one small action you could start doing tomorrow to recover better?