April is Stress Awareness Month. With one study last year showing that 74% of the UK population had felt ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ at some stage in the previous 12 months, the fact is that we’re clearly aware of it. The more important question is: what are we doing to address it?
So every Tuesday in April I’ll pick a theme relating to stress and share with you my top three tips for dealing with it.
This week’s theme is Recovery Time.
The Importance of Recovery Time
Highly driven executives rarely think about the importance of recovery time. They work 12 hour days, entertain clients in the evening, attend networking events, constantly check digital devices and rarely, if ever, mentally switch off. They’re constantly ‘on.’
The trouble is that our nervous system needs recovery time. Our mental and physical energy is finite and stress burns a lot of it. We have to recharge our energy or we burn out. It’s like trying to drive a car with no fuel in it – you won’t get very far and you certainly won’t go very fast.
It’s why companies which encourage long working hours are in cloud cuckoo land if they think it results in greater output. Studies prove that the complete opposite is true. Moreover, the quality of the work will also be negatively impacted as anyone who has read Adam Kay’s Book ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ can scarily testify.
Top Three Tips For Increasing Recovery Time
So what are my three top tips for increasing your recovery time?
- Set some personal boundaries between work and home eg. Switch off work e-mails after 8 pm or for the whole weekend. (I can sense people twitching already!)
- Leave all digital devices out of your bedroom. Sleep is the most important recovery time of all when cells regenerate, muscles replete and so on. It’s fundamentally important to our health and well-being. Checking e-mails just before you go to bed is hardly likely to enhance your night’s sleep. (And no you don’t need your phone as an alarm – buy an alarm clock!)
- Do things which genuinely relax you and reduce the cortisol and adrenaline in your system. Pilates, gentle yoga, tai chi, massages, hypnotherapy, reiki, reading novels or magazines, having a bath, playing with your kids, walking your dog, enjoying nature. Whatever works for you. Create time and space for these things in your life and you will reap rich rewards.
So if you’re doing all three of these already, good for you. You’re a brilliant role model and are likely to be far less stressed, more resilient and more productive than many of your peer group.
If you’re the highly driven type I talked about in my opening paragraph then challenge yourself to do at least one of these three things during the month of April. I guarantee you’ll feel less stressed as a result.