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No one would look at an athlete in an ice bath and think they’re resting. This popular, albeit uncomfortable, post-game cryotherapy treatment increases blood flow and minimizes muscle inflammation to speed up recovery.
Of course, I’m sure the tired athlete would much rather go relax, but in this case, a nap just won’t do. (No offense to *heart* naps.)
Why? Because if the athlete hits the couch instead of the ice bath, they’d suffer from 1) the original soreness from the competition’s physical exertion, and 2) the extended pain from the unaddressed muscle strain. So by resting when the athlete should’ve been recovering, they pay the price twice.
Many of you reached out expressing gratitude for episode 236: Rethink Rest. In it, we explored the seven types of rest everyone needs to function at their peak. But what if more rest isn’t actually what you require? What if it’s deeper than that, and your body, mind, and soul demand recovery instead?
This week, I’ll dissect the differences and similarities between rest and recovery. (And yes, there are dangers of ignoring the key signs of harm.) I’ll show you how to determine what you need right now to optimize healing and, if necessary, take steps towards a recovery plan.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- The crash after the high
- When the results become insufficient
- Building in space & time to work through emotions
- Underestimating the toll of positive events
- Weekends weren’t meant for work
Listen to the Full Episode
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello, It is 7:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 7:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. I am an intercultural strategist, transformation facilitator, and solution-oriented coach, and I am on a mission to help you adapt & succeed through ANY life transition.
It was a regular Friday afternoon after a week of work. I came in from the office greeted my family, and grabbed a glass of wine, walked upstairs, and flopped on my bed. I was exhausted. And I knew I just needed a little buffer time before I headed into the evening with my family, the typical Pizza and a movie night. And while I was up there, it hit me. I realized I’m not resting, I’m recovering.
And the difference is really important. In this episode, we’re going to look at the dangerous similarities and differences between rest and recovery and dive into the risks of ignoring them.
Now, you know that I believe how important rest is. In episode 236: Rethink Rest, we talk about rest and the many forms that it takes to help us recalibrate ourselves. But the thing is, I also know how much I need to be advanced in how I look at rest in my life because if I am ending my Friday in recovery mode and not rest, there’s still more room. And it’s not lost on me that I’m doing this podcast today when I’m feeling really tired.
So let’s dive into the difference between rest and recovery. I’m going to share this with you now because it’s come up over and over and over recently in my client sessions and I thought I have to bring this episode out to you as soon as I can so you can also start thinking about the difference in your own life.
Rest just by definition is the freedom from activity or labor. If you look at other definitions, it’s to be free from anxiety or disturbance. So rest is just not being active or not working. It’s this thing that we do when we’re not playing or working, right? We’re rejuvenating. The true meaning of rest is just to stop doing that activity and it’s to create that balance in our lives. The thing is, it should be natural, right? Not spoiling yourself, right? Not even a privilege, even though, in many, many, many places of the world, just being free from labor is a privilege. But it’s like a law of nature. For example, when you have a field it will be at rest in farming for more yield later.
But somewhere we got this wrong. Like rest is something we have to earn after we’ve worked. But in fact, rest is natural, it’s part of that sort of Yin and Yang of life and it creates the fertile place for more activity or more labor or more creativity.
The reason why it’s so important for us to think about rest is because we know there’s a long-term risk if we don’t do it, workaholism, burn out if we’re not resting. We’re losing sleep. There’s higher anxiety. There’s less energy and it actually impacts our immune system. Right? So we have to stop thinking about it as something like a treat that we get after work. What if it was what had to be put in place to make everything else better. Like in music, there is a rest and that pause is actually what amplifies, all the other music. And I think that’s where we’re not thinking about rest from that perspective.
The other thing that’s dangerous is that we are misconstruing recovery for rest. So, here recovery is actually a process. And recovery, it takes longer. It is something that we do when we combat a problem, right? So for example, they say you’re in recovery, if you’re getting over, let’s say, alcoholism. Or it’s what it takes to heal like you’re recovering from surgery. And the thing about recovery, it’s also natural. It’s not optional. If you’ve had surgery, there has to be healing in that place, but we often fail to recognize it as a situation that needs recovery. Here, we think we just need to rest for a couple of days. But what we really need is recovery. And here’s the thing, it’s because we’re driving it on our time clock.
So I’ve literally had conversations with clients where they’ve had surgery and they didn’t plan enough time to recover. I’ve had clients where they were recovering from illness and didn’t plan enough time away from work to truly heal. And I know this is bigger than medical. I know people who’ve experienced loss or heartbreak and didn’t put in the space to process the loss, right? So recovery is one of those things where if we’re pausing in any way, we’re just resting and we’re not recovering, and the danger with that is that if we don’t, their risk is immediate. So for example, if you were to physically have surgery and then you pop up after having, something cut open, you’re going to break open that place that should be healed. It can extend our time to recuperate but that’s the same thing with our health. It’s the same thing with heartbreak. It’s the same thing with getting over an illness. It’s the same thing with recovering from a massive disappointment.
It’s not enough to just go, “Well, I’m not going to work this weekend.” Because weekends are actually for not working. What are we doing to allow for a longer process? And like I mentioned about Friday evening, so many times we think we need rest, but what we really need is recovery. Maybe you had a massively challenging week and you need more than just not working. You need a process to recover. Okay, so that means we only pause rather than allowing for this space for the process. If it’s something where you’re recovering from disappointment, a job loss, whatever that may be, are you building in times and processes to process those hard feelings?
So for example, if you had sudden news of a diagnosis or you had sudden news that you had to move or sudden job loss or sudden heartbreak, are you building in the space and time to work through those emotions? And if we don’t, we put ourselves at long-term risk. We’re not giving our body, our heart, our soul, what we need. So when we’re in a situation that we know we’re in recovery, we often only allow ourselves rest and because we live in this culture where we always are working and doing more, it feels like we’re doing enough with rest. But actually, we’re still cutting ourselves short. So our efforts fall short and that means the results are not what we need. We’re not giving ourselves enough to truly heal or recover, and that puts our health and our heart at risk.
So we also have situations where things are positive in our life. So we’ve talked about heartbreak, we’ve talked about sudden loss, disappointment. Those are shocks, which are things that we don’t welcome. But we also have situations where we have chosen something. We’ve said, “yes,” to something. We’ve built it into our lives and we’re grateful for it. But here’s the thing. Unexpectedly, there could be a negative impact on us, if we don’t do one thing. And that is we don’t proactively plan in that pause.
So I am the first to be guilty of this. So, recently, if you’ve been following along you’ve seen I’ve had a brand evolution and that was something that was in the planning for well over six months. Lots of excitement, the end of January of 2022 when the brand evolution was revealed and brand new content has come out. And I went on to my community of Expat Coach Coalition, I shared lessons learned about that whole process and one of them was that I didn’t plan on downtime after that. And what were the results of that? One: I didn’t give myself space to process the emotions I was feeling, even time to allow the joy and support that was coming my way. And energetically, I didn’t plan in time to anticipate that I would be emotionally drained, sort of that crash after the high.
So when I thought I was going to be able to focus and do things that were strategic and productive, I had nothing in me to give. And the result was it was hard for me to concentrate and I overestimated, what I could do the next day. In fact that entire week. So what does that do as a ripple effect? That puts more pressure on your body. Because if you’ve committed to something and have to deliver on it, then you’re investing more energy into every hour and day, and then guess what happens at the end of the week? You need to recover. More than rest. That is that cycle that happens, even when we have something positive.
And I got a great tip from Anna Seidel of the Global Mobility Trainer. She calls it: Step 3, even in events that you’re looking forward to, and are wonderful, she plans in cleanup and recovery. So, if you had a physical event, let’s say a party or a community sort of event, you would literally need to clean up but I never plan for this in my online project world, right? And evidence of that is not only my brand evolution, but just this weekend, I had a two-day boot camp. It was a business development boot camp I was working on Friday evening, my time 4 p.m. till midnight and again, Saturday 4 p.m. till midnight because the event was happening on the East Coast of the US. Well, what do you guess, even though I rested yesterday, I didn’t engage in a process of recovery. So today I’m tired. So, I’m tired today and that is because I didn’t plan in time for digital sort of emotional energetic, cleanup, and recovery.
So I had to pay that price twice for me to finally let that message sink in. I realized through this process, I’m doing what I call, “Bending Reality,” like, “I don’t need to clean up and recover after big events,” right? I think, finally, I’ve learned that. I tell people, I learn lessons like a teenager, the hard way. So the good news for you is I can pass on that hard-earned learning to you pain-free. But so that’s the thing. The next time you have a big thing, a launch, or you have even, an anniversary party for a family member or a birthday, or a girls trip, or whatever it is. A conference of people that you love spending time with – are you building in proactively time for R&R afterwards? If you’re like me, you’re not doing that, right? You’re not doing that, and I need to stop doing that.
For me, it’s been a work in progress. I remember when I used to fly abroad to see my family and would come back, literally, sometimes I would land and go home, shower, and go straight to work. And when you’re considering 7 to 9 hours of jet lag, this is not a good idea. The original intention was to seek out as much time with my family, as I could, but what I realize is that it had a massive toll on my body.
So in that respect, I have added some cleanup time for when I’m abroad. I do come home a few days early to give myself some time to recover, right? So think about it in your area of your life. Where do you need to be more proactive in planning in that time? I don’t want you to have to learn your lessons the hard way like I do.
So, this is an invitation to just think about your own life:
- Are you resting on the weekends or is what you’re doing really recovering? I talked to someone and they said that they feel bad when they go back to work on Monday because they spend their whole weekend, doing nothing. And the point they’re doing nothing on the weekend is because they’re so exhausted from the week that they don’t have the energy to do anything else. So that’s recovery and not rest, right? So if that’s you, if what you’re doing is recovering, rather than resting what needs to change during the week so what you’re doing is just putting a pause on your responsibilities.
- Or if you are in a situation where recovery is the next step, are you just telling yourself that rest is enough? Or are you actively building in time and space for the process of healing?
- When you have something positive like I’ve shared here that you’re really were thankful you get to do, have you taken the right steps to proactively plan in time for clean up? Clean up after you’ve invested that extra time and energy in something?
My hunch is that many of you can see yourselves in these scenarios because I’m seeing it all over me and I’m seeing it myself, right? So don’t be like me and learn like a teenager, the hard way.
All right, we’ve been talking about rest and recovery with the differences and what the risks are, and how we can see that nuance in your own life. You might be asking yourself, “Sundae. What does this have to do with Ambitious Transformation in Transition? Go back to the episode last week when we talked about ambitious. Is our ambition just right in relation to our energy levels and our ability to focus? Or are we pushing forward? Pushing on like I did the week of my brand evolution, right? Or are you dialing back? But then shaming yourself that you’re not doing more. When what you’re really doing is holding on to this. definition of ambitious, that is completely disconnected from your context, your energy, and your situation. That is what I want you to think about when it comes to Ambitious Transformation in Transition.
Based on your current patterns of rest and recovery, what needs to change to help shape your current transformation and really enable you to more positively navigate your life in transit? I’m looking forward to going further in this conversation, inside the Facebook group, the IN TRANSIT Hub, if you’re not already part of that community, join us, it’s on Facebook, under groups, IN TRANSIT Hub.
You’ve been listening to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean, steady advice for an unsteady world. Thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with the words of author, Alan Cohen: “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in a rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
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