The necessity not luxury of recovery
If you’re looking for one of the most effective ways to sharpen up your team’s performance and stave off burnout, give some thought today to how you give them time to rest, recover and recharge regularly. Neuroscientists call the technique used by professional athletes and special forces operatives alike, oscillation.
This involves alternating bouts of productive activity or periods of high stress, with short bursts of pre-planned decompression time. Whether that be a 60 second micro break between meetings or a couple of twenty minute daily active recovery breaks.
I don’t want to over-complicate what, on the face of it, is a straightforward topic, however we need to understand the basics. The goal to avoiding burnout is to get the balance right by oscillating between the two fundamental elements of our nervous system that enable us to do two things. Push ourselves to the edge of our abilities and then recover in a world class way!
Revving up or chilling out?
Our autonomic nervous system is split into two parts, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Our sympathetic nervous system is always on, expending energy, ensuring we’re ready to respond to the demands of our day, whether by sharpening our focus and propelling us into super productive flow states or by hurling us into a state of fight or flight when our stress levels hit boiling point. The point is, it’s automatic. However, switching over to the restorative, parasympathetic system must be a proactive choice. Recovery paradoxically takes conscious effort!
Give your team time to recover in a world class way
Data suggests that proactively injecting a little recovery time into our day will keep our internal charge up. This idea of scheduling it in before we feel we need it has a lot of traction in the high-performance literature of late. If we go to the world of endurance sports for a moment, it’s long been understood that if you wait until you’re thirsty before taking a drink you’ve blown it. Dehydration has already set in. It’s now a case of too little too late. How about we take the same approach to managing our mental fitness as we do our physical fitness by injecting a couple of short ‘active recovery’ breaks into our daily schedule.
To re energise, movement tends to beat stationary and outside beats inside. Frankly any form of light exercise will do the trick. A walk-in nature is a favourite for many. If that’s not on our teams’ doorstep, a couple of laps around the block will also work.
To de compress, fully detached beats semi-detached. Typically, phones off! Put on some chilled tunes perhaps. Meditation for some, breathwork for others. Or armed with your drink of choice just sit and watch the world go by.
If you’re team is sitting at desks for hours and are really strapped for time, get them to try the 20-20-20 method. Every 20 minutes stop and gaze at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Anything to break the mental pattern and re-set. Giving yourself permission to do nothing, in this instance, does in fact do something!
It’s not the stress that will take down your team it’s the lack of recovery.