The Importance of Rest and Recovery in Achieving Peak Performance
The energy and effort required to develop the requisite strength, skills, and knowledge necessary for peak performance is both daunting and draining. Tapping into your energy resources day after day, week after week, month after month with no rest or recovery is a recipe destined for disaster and disappointment. Any strategy for achieving peak performance must include regulate and regulated recovery periods.
Contrary to popular belief, a proper rest break does not detract from performance, but rather contributes to it. The body needs time to adapt to the mental, physical and emotional stress of preparation and performance-in business, sport and life. It is in recovery where the real effects of training are processed and made permanent. Recovery also allows energy stores to replenish and damage to be repaired. Without planned rest and recovery, you will break down. Signs and symptoms of breaking down include feeling depressed, stale, decreased performance, injuries, lack of focus, and a general feeling of malaise. With proper rest, all of your physical, mental and emotional systems have the opportunity to recharge, and you come back stronger than ever.
So how long and what should a proper rest and recovery include? The answer differs depending on both you the person and the tasks from which you need recovery. It is important, however, that your recovery periods are regular and include mental, physical, and psychological dimensions to reap maximum benefits. Here are a few suggestions that you should consider to aid and speed your recovery.
Focus on Self. A fruitful recovery demands a focus on self-what you need to do (and not do) in order to heal, rest and recharge. Give consideration to developing understanding and a broad sense of your needs, wants, and desires that extend beyond your everyday tasks and duties. Be your own best friend, and follow your best friend's advice.
Nurture relationships. A constant and continual focus on a specific task, like a job or daily duties can often come with a sense of isolation from personally satisfying relationships. If this is your case, include others who like, support and believe in you. Laughter is great medicine, so be alert for surrounding yourself with people who are positive, optimistic and can make you laugh. Reciprocal relationships are often the best wherein you give to others what they need and they give you what you need-and the entire process seems comfortable and effortless.
Rest, Relax, Regenerate. The National Sleep Foundation reports research that suggests we need between 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This is especially critical in periods of recovery. In addition to sufficient sleep, engaging in relaxing activities such as meditation, time in nature, massage, or a nap will contribute significantly to your regeneration. Note: television is not a relaxer, so more time in front of the tube should not be a part of a constructive recovery plan.
Exercise. While strenuous exercise may help some to relieve stress, it is generally not considered appropriate in recovery periods. Rather, mild forms of exercise such as stretching, going for walks, rowing or paddling, swimming, dancing, cycling, yoga, or gardening will help reduce stress while aid metabolism and heart rate.
Fuel. Yes, eating is a necessary ingredient for daily living, and its' importance in recovery is critical. Food rich in protein (e.g., meat, eggs, fish, beans) is essential for rebuilding muscles and physical endurance. A diet that includes quality meals with a protein source, carbohydrate, and a variety of vegetables will help your body feel better. For your recovery, foods that are roasted, grilled or boiled are always better than fried foods. Fresh is healthier than processed, and fast foods should be avoided. Hydration is also important for flushing the body, as well as replenishing the muscles, so drink plenty of water. The old rule about drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day is a good one to follow.
Feel good! Finally, include activities that just simply make you feel good; activities make you feel special, successful, appreciated, or even a little pampered. Time with family, a concert or play, a sporting event, a good book, a trip to a place of interest, a hobby, or any other activity that has the sole purpose of putting a smile on your face, takes stress from your life, and contributes to your physical, mental and emotional well-being should be a part of the recovery plan.
If your recovery plan has worked, you should not only be prepared to resume your normal and required activities, but anxious to get back to doing what do, and ready to do it the best you ever have!