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When we push ourselves beyond our normal limits–whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally–it’s important to give our body time to recover.
Recovery can include extra sleep, professional counseling, reduced levels of physical activity, relaxation treatments or simply more quiet time.
Earlier this week, I ventured out of my normal exercise routine and tried some new things to mix it up. But I noticed that it has taken me more time to recover than usual, so I dialed it down a notch yesterday to give myself a break. Instead of engaging in my usual 60 minutes of moderate activity, I walked on my treadmill for 30 minutes. This simple adjustment allowed me to recover while simultaneously preventing me from “missing” a workout, which may have also prevented a decline in my motivation. Consistency is important.
When we fail to give ourselves time to recover from life’s demands, we often end up sick. I can recall a number of times over the years when my work schedule included long hours, travel and mentally taxing challenges. Often, I would find myself battling a cold or other some other illness–which, ironically, ended up setting me back. Had I rested properly, I might have been further ahead.
In high school, I remember visiting my family physician for what ended up being bronchitis. He was in his 90’s and it was safe to say that he had seen a fair number of patients over the course of his career. (Talk about having perspective!). He was old-school too. In fact, he still examined slides under a microscope at his office rather than sending samples to a lab. As we discussed antibiotic options, he made the comment, “It’s too bad people won’t just stay in bed these days. Sleep cures a lot of things.” I never forgot that. And I think he’s right.
The human body is resilient and equipped to heal itself under the right conditions. Self-care creates those conditions. I often wonder how many medical treatments might be avoided if we would give our body a chance to recover on its own.