Mastering recovery

Martin Pet, Sport and performance psychologist, Lead expert Lifeguard

Top athletes know the secret: the more you train, the more you need to recover. There are those who associate taking a break with laziness or shirking one’s duties and many even feel guilty about relaxing. But no one can go on doing more and more ad infinitum. None of us is exempt from switching off to take good care of ourselves, especially when the pressure is high. This simple truth can be a life-saver.

We may recognize the need to take breaks, but there is a difference between taking a break and taking an effective break. Switching off from the laptop to check the text messages in your phone is an example of a non-effective break. Your body, mind and emotions continue working as hard, only using another screen. Training your recovery muscle is an art. Let us look at what makes it successful.

Prioritize your breaks

Treat your daytime breaks, away from desk and screens, as you would an important meeting. You are effectively meeting with yourself – could there be anyone more important to meet?! Try the following:

  1. Set break-out times in your daily agenda.
  2. Set the alarm clock as a reminder.
  3. Ask a housemate to remind you that you committed to taking regular breaks.
  4. Turn off screens when break time is due. An open screen is an invitation to continue working.

Reward yourself for recovery moments you take; a small treat, a self-hug, a delicious cup of coffee or tea, just to tell yourself “well done!” for taking a few moments away.

Effective recovery is all about quality downtime – time during which we are out of action or unavailable for the normal go-go-go of daily routine. The harder we work (whether at our job or in our private life), the more quality downtime we need to recharge ourselves on all levels.

To make your recovery moments work for you, make sure to prioritize these breaks, and get the most out of them by mindfully choosing how to use this precious time. No machine can work continuously without a break, and this is all the truer for the delicate machine we call the human body.