REST & RECOVERY - The Secret Weapon To Optimal Performance

Aug 22, 2022

Do you constantly juggle responsibilities and commitments and find it hard to stop for a moment and rest?

And perhaps the thought of resting is even making you feel guilty?

We live in a fast-paced world where being able to juggle responsibilities and achieve our goals is a priority, and rest and recovery have become second thoughts.

Worse yet, resting has a bad rap.

In a go-go society filled with busy schedules and never-ending commitments, rest is often associated with not working, not being active and not being productive.

There’s never enough time in a day to do it all, so why waste time sleeping or resting?

Yet, if you’re looking to maximize your work performance and achieve your goals, allowing your body to rest and recover both throughout the day and at night should be your absolute priority. 

In this blog, I’ll explain why recovery is paramount to maximizing your performance before sharing tips on how to best recover.


Why Is Recovery So Important?

In a recent interview, Lebron James, one of the world’s most celebrated basketball players, revealed that his secret weapon for consistently performing on a court is sleep. The NBA star admitted that he sleeps between eight to twelve hours every night which might explain his consistent top performance. And Lebron James is far from being the only athlete prioritizing sleep and recovery. Famous tennis player Roger Federer, professional golfer Michelle Wie or competitive swimmer Michael Phelps all shared their proclivity for sleeping over ten hours a night to reach peak performance.

While non-athletes do not require that much time to allow their body and mind to fully recover, many pride themselves on operating with less than six hours of sleep. We blame our fast-paced lifestyles for not getting an adequate amount of sleep.

Yet, studies have shown that short sleepers’ physical and mental health is at risk. People who sleep less than six hours a night are at greater risk of obesity and mortality and are prone to mood disturbance, delayed reactions and a decline in cognitive function, which, in turn, impacts their productivity.

Sleeping has many benefits: it consolidates long-term memories, boosts your energy levels, and helps regulate your emotions. But that’s not all. Getting enough quality sleep has also been proven to significantly improve cognitive function leading to enhanced concentration and better decision-making and problem-solving. 

Lastly, when you sleep, your body also releases hormones and proteins that help restore damaged tissues, including your muscles, which is one of the reasons why rest is so critical to athletes’ optimal performance.

So, much like sports athletes, your body and mind need time to rest and recover if you want to be at the top of your game during the day.

As a career athlete who has to cope with unprecedented work and personal demands, you need to adopt a life regimen that prioritizes recovery to fuel your energy levels and sustain your performance. 

So, if there’s one takeaway from this article is that rest and recovery are key elements of working smart.

Therefore, never give recovery a lower priority. Rather, consider recovery a necessary element to support your normal cognitive and physical functions, much like drinking, eating and breathing, and the key to sustained high performance.


Top Recovery Strategies

Athletes tend to distinguish between short-term and long-term recovery strategies, and as a career athlete, so should you.

While short-term recovery strategies allow athletes to re-energize right after a workout or a game, long-term recovery strategies help them reset and perform sustainably. 


Short-Term Recovery Strategies

Practicing meditation: Studies have shown that a few minutes of meditation every day can enhance your brain function and boost your energy levels. My favorite way to amplify the positive benefits of meditation on my mental health and work performance is to practice morning meditation just after I wake up. Spending a few minutes a day focusing on my breathing, being in the moment, and noticing my body. This helps me quiet my mind, stay grounded and energized throughout the day, and focus on my goals and tasks.

Stepping outside: Walking is a great way to increase your blood flow and circulation to your brain and body and improve your mood and energy levels. What’s even more powerful to fuel your performance is walking outside. Getting some fresh air every hour for a few minutes while noticing nature around you will help you recover, reset and stay productive throughout the day.

Doing quick deep breathing exercises: Quick deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety and stress allowing your body to replenish and even paving the way to better sleep at night, which, as we discussed, is critical for recovery. Here are a few breathing exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Take a power nap: Feeling a little drowsy after your lunch break? Don’t ignore that sign from your body and ignore your need for a power nap. Studies suggest that naps can serve as a reset button and can give you a second wind. It can sharpen your concentration, mood, memory and even creativity!

Prioritizing sleep: Sleep is nature’s way of regenerating and replenishing our brain and body. Now, research shows that deep sleep is the most restorative of sleep, and most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for their body and mind to regenerate. What’s more, deep sleep enhances cognitive functions such as creativity and memory. And to ensure you get quality sleep, adopt a bedtime routine. This includes going to bed at the same time every day, preparing for bed by stretching or meditating, avoiding rich meals and switching off electronics two to three hours before sleeping.

Adding these steps to your daily routine will enable your body and mind to recover better, thus enhancing your performance.


Long-Term Recovery Strategies

Long-term recovery strategies are so paramount to athletes that coaches typically build days or weeks of rest into their protégés' seasonal training schedules.

But in the corporate world, FOMO (fear of missing office) is real.

Unfortunately, over 78% of Americans only feel comfortable taking a vacation if they can still access work!

The truth is that if you want to consistently perform at a high level, you need to be able to fully disengage from work every now and then. This way, you can focus on yourself, your loved ones and the things you’re passionate about outside of work.

Taking a sabbatical or planning for vacations regularly can help fuel your sustained high performance because it allows your body and mind to fully shut down for several days or weeks in a row. And this, in turn, can help prevent burnout.

Besides, taking a vacation also has other benefits.

It means you can allocate more time to connect with others, form positive relationships outside work, and nourish your body and mind with enriching experiences. So, bear that in mind next time you put off that trip you’ve been talking about for years once again because you have too much work on ;)


I hope this post will help you understand the power of recovery and how resting can significantly enhance your productivity and improve your performance in the long run. While it might sound counterintuitive in our society, recovery is key to high performers’ achievements. And if you need help fueling your high performance, don’t hesitate to book a discovery call.