Benefits of Recovery

Welcome to Daylight Savings 2016, and the loss of another hour of sleep!

Woman (and author of post) laying in bed sleeping under white covers, with two Siamese cats seeping on a pillow and on her foot.
Zzzz! Learn about the benefits of rest, recovery, and naps! Photo courtesy of Imei Hsu. Use only with permission.

A few seasons ago, an experienced athlete shared with me a piece of sage wisdom:

“You can only race as well as you can recover.”

It’s the occasional freak of nature — and perhaps our belief that we may be that one percent or less of the overall population — that drives us to behave in ways that are contradictory to the well-understood and time-tested fact that athletes perform better when they get consistent rest and recovery times along with their training, nutrition, body work, and other medical care.

Many people were stunned when marathoner Ryan Hall announced his retirement at age 33. Hall, cited as one of the greatest American marathoners in history, had been struggling with fatigue and low testosterone. The rigors of training for one marathon and half marathon after another had taken its toll on his body and particularly his hormone balance.

As a therapist, I see very few clients who perform at these high rigor levels of demand in their work lives and private lives. What I do see are people who have extremely busy and productive schedules at work, at home, and even at play. To find time to “have it all and do it all”, many of them cite sleep as the activity they give up most often.

To get all the items checked off the list, the kids shuttled to soccer practice and ballet dance lessons, projects at work finished and home renovations projects completed, to care for an aging parent, and make sure the pet gets its surgery and regular teeth cleaning — well, sleep gets whittled down to the bare minimum to get by.

But at what cost?

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    On Adulting

    picture of a house with a garden in front
    Find yourself wondering how good you are at “adulting”? How do you gauge your own progress in the world of grownups? Some practical thoughts On Adulting.

    The other day, I made a comment to a friend that my cat, Loomi, sometimes doesn’t “cat” very well. It was a reference to her dog-like behavior involving being greeted at the door by her, her affectionate mannerisms and occasional eagerness to please, and her anticipatory head drop as she looks down at the ground when she sees one of humans pick up the laser pen. She’s got “dog” down pat, and only when I hear her tearing around the house in a manic romp do I remember that she’s “catting” as well.

    I expect strange behavior from cats. They are, after all, space aliens who have decided to inhabit cute, furry bodies in order to study human nature. [j/k]. When it comes to people, however, I find it equally interesting that some of them tell me they aren’t very good at “adulting”. What is that all about?

    Ever since the gerund “adulting” entered mainstream conversation, I’ve been more surprised not by its appearance, but by who has taken it most to heart. If you assume it has been taken more seriously by Millennials, think again! The age group that has the most to gain by learning the skills of adulting –and the most to lose for having not learned those skills — are currently in their late 30’s through early 50’s.

    If you’re in that age group, fear not. What I’d like to share On Adulting is helpful for all age groups, yet this brief post is particularly important for you. Read on.

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      Just Pick One

      trail-950690_1280
      The key to successfully achieving a goal begins with actually picking one. Just one. Read more about choosing your path and focusing on it. Photo from Creative Commons.

      With the New Year, I hear of people wanting to effect change in their lives. And I am as excited for them as they are! Change may be scary, but it can also be an adventurous path to personal and/or professional success.

      Making a New Year’s resolution has become a tradition for some, and something to avoid for others. Perhaps you’ve been disappointed in the past. You made a big goal for yourself, and once again, you didn’t meet that goal. You didn’t meet it this year, last year, or the year before.

      Well, guess what. You are not alone. Big goals that people want, in general:

      1. Improved health and fitness, in the form of weight loss, improved eating habits, and a regular exercise routine;
      2. Increase financial security, such as learning about investments, developing a career path, changing careers, and launching a business;
      3. Improved relationships, such as refining communication skills, limiting and extinguishing painful behaviors, and starting a new romantic relationship;
      4. Balancing work and life into something reasonable, sustainable, and meaningful;
      5. Learning a new skill, such as riding a bicycle, learning a new language, and playing a musical instrument.

      In 2013, I wrote about New Year’s resolutions in a post, encouraging people to consider looking at these big goals as an evolution, not a revolution. You see, revolution is “change now”; it is violent and quick; it either happens or it does not. ¬†Evolution involves small changes over the long haul, making it more likely to stick to a plan, even if there are a few hiccups. Evolution keeps moving forward. Take a quick look at that post for some tips on making a lifestyle evolution that helps changes really stick.

      This year’s New Year’s resolution tip is simple. If you have never, or rarely ever, been able to follow through on a big goal for the year (and wasn’t related to employed work, where you have someone you are accountable to), all I want you to try for this year is this.

      Pick one. Just one.

      And then, learn how to break that one goal down into actionable points that you can see on a calendar, point at, and track.

      When you can get that one goal laid out in such a way that you can see how reasonable it is to achieve, you may be able to pick another one a little bit down the road. But I recommend that you pick just one for now, and learn how to approach it by focusing.

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