Burnout Or Recovery?

Have you found yourself wishing there was more time? Time to do the things you know you need to do? When is the last time you took a moment to really rest? And no, I’m not talking about when you rested because you got sick and had to go to bed for a day.

There is always more work to do than there is time to do it in. Pressures mount from all sides. Sometimes our fear of looking bad, letting someone down, and not being seen as a team player keeps us running on fumes rather than recovering. We never turn off, whether our minds, our phones, or our email. It is a natural response to more coming at us. We start losing sleep, drinking more caffeine, eating sugary foods or skipping meals altogether. We cram more into the schedule and do absolutely nothing for recovery.

The question is how to “find the time” to recover. You don’t. You make the time.

You make it a priority. It’s the only way. This is a somewhat difficult thing to accept for me (and maybe you too), but here’s how it works: we make time for what really matters. We just do. If you aren’t “finding the time” to do what you need to do, whatever you are answering to (a boss, a client, your ego) is more important to you than the thing you are not doing. You are stuck in a competing commitment, and the one that is winning is your priority.

Today is my “off day” from skiing. While still early in the season, I’ve been going at it hard. This is a deliberate day off, notwithstanding the beautiful, warm water and holiday. (I’m writing this on Memorial Day 2017 – thank you to those who offered the ultimate sacrifice!)

This was a super difficult thing for me today. See, water skiing is addictive (in a good way) and taking any day off to recover means I don’t get the thrill and the adrenaline rush.

Yet recovery is absolutely necessary if I am to last the season or just ski better later in the week. Whether my mind is burned out or not (it’s not), my body is. Skiing is an intense sport. Unless I follow the principle of oscillation, my body will enter a performance decline curve and then I will start practicing skiing tired, which will lead to bad form, which will lead to worse skiing, which will possibly lead to injury and much less skiing. So I rest in order to keep going, even though right this minute, I want to go ski.. If you work out and you don’t change the muscle groups your working on, your muscles plateau and it makes it really hard to continue getting stronger.

The same applies to any endeavor. When I go hard without recovery, my decisions start slipping, my mind gets foggy, I work tired, make unnecessary mistakes, and things slip through the cracks. More importantly, my inner world becomes more chaotic, making my external world more testy. Relationships suffer and eventually I will get sick. All because I was unwilling to follow some simple recovery practices. (And maybe because I think I’m superhuman?)

Nope, it’s because I’m stuck in that competing commitment that puts something “out there” in front of what really matters.
 This has been an excruciating lesson for me to learn.

It removes my excuses and forces me to face myself and my convoluted logic. I hate it.

Yet I have found that anytime I am not doing what I “should be doing” or I can’t “find the time”, it’s because I’m stuck in a competing commitment, and my actions are showing me what matters most.

So today, I decided that recovery mattered more than the thrill of skiing.

This is a principle I work with my clients with as well. Even the busiest people can stop once an hour and take a few deep breaths. They can do some muscle tensing and relaxing, which is surprisingly effective. Teams doing massive projects stop for recovery and check in every six to eight weeks – and discover that recovery allows you to “go slow to go fast.

We cannot perform at the highest levels if we are always on. We have to know how to turn it off in order to turn it on.

Over the years, I’ve come to see recovery as one of the most important elements to performing at high levels. When I deliberately manage my energy – through how I manage my body, mind, emotion and spirit –I can do more and I’m less likely to collapse into a heap of human Jello at the end of the day.

What do you do to recover? What are the most productive practices that you have found to help you bounce back after setbacks or major energy expenditures?

As always, I would love to learn from you in the comments!

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6/27/2017, 10:05:12 AMOne month ago when this landed in my inbox, I liked the title and intended to read the blog. At the time I was not experiencing burnout, but I am familiar with the cycle. Perhaps it is case and point that it has taken me an entire month to find a few minutes to open this email and find this blog post, but needless to say, these words ring so true. I have been going at breakneck pace for one month flat. Because I have mainly been enjoying myself, and valuing what I do, I’ve had blinders on to the burnout. Now, however, I find myself completely exhausted, and in need of multiple recovery days. Unfortunately, I already scheduled myself for the week… After this weekend, I will be going on a trip. The second half of summer is already lining up to be extremely busy. I am, however, going to make a strong attempt to prioritize down time and personal time. Thanks for the words to the wise. They were right on time.

6/27/2017, 11:37:57 AMFunny how these things work Corey. Once again we are having a beautiful day and I scheduled today as my “off day” from skiing this week. Glad that these words came at the right time for you. If you can’t get full days of rest and recovery, I have a ton of quick “in between” tricks that have gotten me through some intense work cycles. You know how to find me if you want a couple to get you through this busy period. Lynn