If athletes want to be successful in their chosen sport, they have to know how to train appropriately. On some days they train hard, pushing their personal limits. On other days they pull back and rest their bodies, recognizing recovery is just as important as exertion if they want to perform well. They also have to know how to fuel their bodies with the right nutrition so they don't "hit the wall" in the middle of a big event.
What would happen if, instead of incorporating these practices, they constantly pushed themselves to do more, skipped the rest days, and ate empty calories?
Granted, if they're like your kids, they could probably get away with this for a while, right?. But, over a period of time, how well do you think they'd perform?
Now, think about the way you work. Do you consciously balance training days with rest days? Or, do you push yourself to do more day in and day out?
It would seem that weekends are the rest days, but do you really let down and relax? For many, weekends are packed with kids' activities, social events and chores they don't have time for during the week.
How might you approach your work differently if you thought of yourself as a professional athlete? While you may not run actual marathons, the pace and distance you go each week mentally may feel just as difficult. Sitting all day and suppressing your body's needs for movement, nourishment, fresh air, sunshine, and play also work against your best performance.
Best-selling author Tony Schwartz teaches people to manage their energy, not their time. Achieving peak performance doesn't mean you're constantly doing more. It requires that you understand what your body needs in order to function optimally and integrate these needs throughout your work week so you're not depleting your inner resources.
What can you do?
Here's a small step you can take. Look at your calendar and note an upcoming important event or deadline. Make a note and perhaps even block out some time for a day or more afterwards to take it easy. Even if you still have to be at work, is there something you can you work on that is less intense? Perhaps this is also a time to plan a relaxing lunch with a friend or just get outside for a walk on your own. What would delight you?
Giving yourself a rest period signals your parasympathetic system that it's okay to come off high alert, allowing your body to return to a relaxed normal. Scientists say you'll notice more blood flow to your prefrontal cortex, allowing you to think clearly, focus, and prioritize your next project.
As I'm writing this to you, it's also a reminder to myself because I can get caught up in doing more. So, here's to all of us working in personally sustainable ways so we can accomplish what's important and feel good.
Christine Gust, MBA
Doctor of Naturopathy