On Matching the Recovery to the Work

I’m super tired lately, and feeling intense effects of that on my physical and mental well being, but it’s also good, because I have a tendency to go all in headfirst and overload and overwhelm and burn out and quit, and I’m learning to recognize what my body and mind need vs what I want, and adjust accordingly.

It seems to be a lesson I need to learn over and over to make it stick, sadly.

Two weeks ago I had what I can only term a “psychological event” and then followed it immediately with an activity that challenged my anxiety, and though all turned out just fine, I was extremely drained. I should have taken the rest of that day and the next very easy, and napped, and meditated, soaked in the tub, gone to bed early, slept in late. I did none of that, opting instead to push through and do alllll the things.

Then I got my period and still kept pushing through, skipping no workout days.

Then last weekend, even though I was already depleted, I took on an activity that challenged my anxiety tremendously and again did not match that with purposeful intentional recovery. Scott even said at one point, “Honey you haven’t stopped since you got up. You need to rest.” And I didn’t. Because of that I’ve been a mess this week. I worked out the first half of the week but Thursday only yoga happened because I had to slow it down or break down. I came very close to breaking down as it was. Friday I focused even more on rest and did no exercise.

Scott has had a heavy load at work lately and that, combined with concern for me and other random things, has really taken a toll on him and left him depleted as well. We are both kinda taking this weekend to relax and regroup, and hopefully start this next week stronger and with a better outlook.

Jillian Michaels- who is one of my main gurus in life, not just in fitness- has taught me a lot about matching hard work with recovery. Her best fitness advice is to work as hard as you can on your workout days, and then let those muscles rest and heal. Muscle soreness is microtears, which, once they’ve healed, make the muscle tissue stronger. That applies to my mental health too. I will get stronger if I match the work with adequate rest.

So what does it look like to match the work with recovery? I’ll describe a couple of different scenarios where I need to be more intentional and how I plan to do so.

On a normal weekday these are the mental/physical resource consuming activities in my day (all very good things, but draining) :

  • School time with the kids
  • My Jillian workout
  • Going for a walk
  • Keeping Lexi occupied/quiet so D can nap
  • Daily maintenance housework
  • Cooking all the meals
  • Getting the kitchen clean and house picked up for the next day
  • Prepping everything for the next day

Normal stuff, and most moms do even more, but right now, with where I am on my journey, it’s a lot for me. In order to not deplete myself and allow healing and recovery, I need to make sure these things also happen daily:

  • Devotional time
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Eat good food at regular intervals
  • Two sessions of mindfulness/meditation of at least 10 min each
  • 30+ minutes of yoga
  • Shower
  • Journal about positive things
  • Get at least 8h sleep
  • At least 1-2 times a week, a relaxing bath with Epsom salts and oils

I’m working on ways to make sleep quality better, and hope to share more on that later.

Another scenario I struggle to balance out is when I do choose to go out and do something in public, which challenges both my social anxiety and my OCD (side note, I start to tear up every time I type those letters-maybe that’s a future post topic). It drains me immensely, at best, even if it goes well and nothing triggers me during that time. If something does trigger me, I’m just a mess, possibly for days, afterwards.

So how do I recover from even the best case with minimal impact to the days ahead?

  • For now, do not double up on challenging activities on the same day. Give margin and space for the body and mind to reset.
  • Especially if there is a triggering moment or event, treat it like an injury and rest the “muscle” for a few days -right now I generally only attempt things on the weekends for this purpose.
  • If I’m especially drained, take a nap or an intentional break on my own, if not sleeping, reading or doing something to keep my mind from grabbing sticky thoughts.
  • Find ways to simplify the To Dos on my plate. This week I decided to make the grocery list only an online order, no trip to Costco, and I made the menu and list on Thursday instead of leaving it for the weekend. This way I can rest for the most part today (Saturday) and tomorrow all I have to do is less than an hour of meal prep and a once over of the downstairs, which Scott can help with.

There are other things I’m doing to optimize my recovery, like being more intentional about food and supplements, but that stuff comes easy. Making time to care for myself is hard.

The next six weeks or so I’m really going to continue to focus on these things as we settle into our new school year, and I’m hopeful that I’ll see great improvement in my physical and mental health! I can’t wait to share what God does.

I’ll leave you with a link to an Instagram post that really resonated with me this morning. This is my focus in this season, to, instead of “doing all the things”, to do what matters most.

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