Cheers to those people who dragged themselves to the gym despite the (quite honestly) out of control temperatures (just as well we installed those whirlybirds right! What a difference! J ) and the ramping up of the Christmas social season. I know I was happy to be able to get a session done each weekday (and boy was it hot training at lunchtime!) and 3x times through the circuit for the challenge…all I need to do now is all of that again THIS week!
The other thing about the challenge is that it includes a ‘collection’ of ‘HEALTHY HABITS’ which I have asked people to try and ‘track’ throughout the month. And THREE of the habits listed – ‘Morning routine’, ‘Post Training Recovery’ and ‘Meal Multi-Tasking is a No-No’ – all could (and probably should) come under the same heading: Recovery.
Every time we run through our Health Check process with a new client, one of the boxes we try to ‘tick’ with them is ‘RECOVERY’ (which could also be called ‘Relaxing’)…and it is often the hardest one to ‘tick off’. And I’m going to try and explain why that is and WHAT I actually mean.
I want to start off with a ‘counter point’. Scrolling through a social media feed might LOOK like relaxing. And it might even FEEL like it SHOULD be relaxing. I mean, you are barely moving – in fact, you can do it laying down – but ask yourself this: When was the last time you closed down your preferred SM feed (SnapFace, InstaBook etc) and felt ‘ENERGISED’?
Just in case you haven’t heard the news, it is important to sleep, it is important to relax…those are the times when our bodies recover, when our muscles repair themselves, when our minds ‘rest and gain control’ over our emotions (you know this is true – how often do you ‘sleep on it’ and either the answer to the problem has appeared OR you realise it wasn’t that big a problem in the first place??
But if you ask me there is a bit of an ‘ART’ to rest and recovery…and not all forms of kicking back are created equal. Like scrolling through SM, I think there are a heap of things that we THINK are restful that actually have the opposite effect (they cause us to feel MORE tired and MORE stressed).
Stage 1 (of figuring all this out): What even IS rest?
Well, goodness knows. But the dictionary says:
“Rest: specifically : a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities”.
So I guess that means anything that causes your heart rate and blood pressure to come down…reading the various blogs on ‘Pyschology Today’ in prep for the challenge (https://www.psychologytoday.com/) it seems to be a bit complicated – but generally speaking characterised by times when you are NOT ‘deliberately’ thinking…you are just ‘kind of’ being! I guess (for me) you could really extend this to mean times when you aren’t really trying to accomplish anything/control yourself. For instance, there is no point trying to ‘relax’ by sitting in front of NetFlix if all you can think about is the email you are trying to write…there is no point in me trying to practice my guitar (which is what I had down on my list this afternoon) if I haven’t finished this blog (which is why I am writing it RIGHT NOW). When you are ‘distracted’ and your mind can’t ‘drift away’, well, you aren’t relaxing and you 100% aren’t resting. But given you can ‘put thoughts of work’ aside, there are a heap of activities that fit the requirement of ‘not trying to accomplish anything/not trying to control yourself’ that you could try in order to better rest/relax.
Idea#1 – Go for a walk.
Now, this is not crank the music and go for a punishing run. It is leave the head-phones at home and go for a walk. Allow yourself to be distracted. Look around. Notice the gardens of your neighbours, watch the kids playing at the park…hell, maybe take your own kids to the park and kick the footy with them!
Idea#2 – Spend some time with friends
If you are like me, this happens all too infrequently. Just being able to relax and let conversation flow, well, that’s good for you. Of course, talking about the latest family dramas over an over-cooked turkey is (apparently) one of the most stressful events in modern society so perhaps this isn’t ALWAYS a great idea!
Idea#3 – Yoga or Stretching ‘routine’
I have intentionally said ‘routine’ here as it needs to be something that you can do without thinking. Just going through somewhere between 5-10 pretty simple movements is amazingly cathartic…it really does help you ‘rest up’ and the gentle movements of your muscles will help you feel energised.
Idea#4 – Watch a couple of ‘Sporting Highlights’ on YouTube.
Love the basketball? Chill out and watch 5-minutes of highlights of people ‘doing their thing’. Just be in the moment and engage with what is happening. This often works best with videos you have seen multiple times before – the rhythm of watching it all unfold ‘again’ and the familiarity of it will help you just ‘tune out’.
Idea#5 – Sleep!
Well, obviously right? But even so – it works pretty well. If you are one of those lucky people out there who can take those 30-minute ‘power naps’…well, more power too you. For the rest of us, just turn off the T.V/log-out of your SM accounts and GO TOO BED!!!
Ultimately, there is no real strict rule about how much you need to rest/relax/sleep – but I think it goes without saying that the more ‘stressed out’ you are getting, the more you need to set aside some time to relax. And often, small little ‘5-minute bursts’ of ‘REAL’ rest will provide you with more energy than 30-minutes spent ‘trying to rest’ whilst your mind churns about all the work not getting done. It is usually pretty easy to convince your stressed out self to take a 10-minute walk out in the fresh air versus finding somewhere to ‘fall asleep’ for 30-minutes (if you can even do that??).
Remember what ‘REST’ is. And remember that somethings that look ‘restful’ are really far from it…s trade in your screen time and social media for a quick walk in the fresh air or a 10-minute yoga/stretching routine…it might so may seem hard at first, but once you get going, you’ll feel a lot better. Making time to really ‘recover’ is one of the most productive things you can do and the absolute key to hitting any of your body composition goals.
Anyway, that’s it from me. Good luck with the challenge this week…see you in the gym,
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