The Art of Rest and Recuperation

The Art of Rest and Recuperation

Written by Dr Alan Watkins

Does taking time off seem just as exhausting as any other working day? Do you keep on wondering where is the revitalised ‘you’? Do you feel drained, lacking energy and motivation? If all of the above sounds like you, you’re not alone! I feel cross with myself because I let myself fall into the trap of thinking that simply going on holiday would be enough to restore my energy and give me the boost I need.

So, what did I get wrong?
One of the most frequent things I work on with my coachees and team journey participants is how we manage our energy. So many of us feel exhausted most of the time. We usually tend to focus on time management. Does “I haven’t got enough time to do everything I need to do.” sound familiar?

So many of us are fixated on how we manage our time and how we can maximise every hour of our day. The real challenge is not how we manage our time but how we manage our energy. More than that, it’s how we manage our energy on an ongoing basis and not see it as something we restore at the weekend or when we are on holiday. The solution? A simple tool we use is called the E-Bank. Let me explain how it works…

Reflect on the week that passed. What gave you energy and what took your energy away? List out the energy deposits and then the energy withdrawals. What do you notice?

If you start doing this exercise daily, you will start noticing what your energy balance is looking like. Are you in energy debt or credit? What actions you must take to change or optimise that?

Once you start noticing what boosts and drains your energy, you can start to proactively manage your energy throughout the week, month, and even year. Look ahead at your week and where you see something that you know will be a drain, and plan what you can do to boost your energy afterwards or before. This leads me to the next part of the solution. Having time off is something that can be an energy boost, but we need to think about how well we are recuperating during that time off. Be honest with yourself, do you recuperate or vegetate?

How we feel when we rest, has a huge impact on whether we recover or not. Negative feelings generate cortisol and this hormone subsequently causes a catabolic impact, which in turn breaks the body down and takes energy away. Feeling positive releases DHEA, a hormone that your body naturally produces in the adrenal gland; this beautiful hormone helps build the body up creating an anabolic state, through which our body recovers and builds energy.

So if you sit feeling guilty watching TV in the evening, worrying about everything you need to do, at the end of the program you will still feel exhausted and likely take yourself off to bed, cross with yourself, because you achieved nothing you set out to that night, and promising you will do it tomorrow. If however you watch TV and feel content and relaxed as you do this, at the end of the programme you will find yourself suddenly energised and able to get on with the jobs you are meant to do.

That’s the difference and impact of recuperation versus vegetation. So if you give yourself a break, GIVE yourself a break, otherwise, there is no point.

So here is my challenge to us all. Let’s get to the weekend with the energy to do what we want, and when we do so, let’s savour that moment. Notice and embrace every moment that relaxes you and makes you content. Then realise with great pleasure how much more time you seem to have!