October Recover

Have you ever found yourself in one of those “downward spirals” and you just can’t seem to shake it? It happens to most of us at one point or another.  Just when you say “I don’t think I could manage to take one more thing” (be it any life stressor), what happens? Of course, another thing happens and you learn how to manage it.  Although this doesn’t necessarily help get out of the so called “funk” or “downward spiral” it does tell us a lot about how humans are truly designed to endure.

 

The bottom line is that humans are creatures of habit…there is a plethora of research to support this.  Unfortunately it’s not always the best or most effective habits we revert to under stressful situations.  Instead, according to the research, it is the habits we learn first in life that tend to be tops on the go to list.  For example, if you are stressed during the first few weeks of that new diet and begin to become stressed the tendency is to automatically to revert our old habits.  So as it goes, when we encounter the dreaded “downward spiral” we usually respond in much the same way every time.  This can prove to be counter productive at times especially when our response leaves us no better off in the end.

 

So when we think about Recovering whether it be mental, physical or all of the above it’s important to know when and how to interrupt our typical response to maximize our efforts.  The first step is to identify your response because if you don’t know what’s coming how can you avoid or change it?

 

Here are some simple strategies to interrupt both the short and long-term stressors in all of our lives.

 

  1. Breathe: simply focusing on our breathing has been shown to be an effective way to interrupt the stress response.  Try this simple metered breathing technique: Breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.  Repeat the sequence 4 times.  The technique has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
  2. Move: Get out and move…Most folks will say they’re just too tired.  But are you really physically tired or just mentally exhausted?  Try this test to tell the difference. 
    1. Force yourself to get out and walk for 5 minutes.
    2. After 5 minutes are you feeling better or worse?
    3. If you are feeling worse, pack it in for the day and follow # 3 below. 
    4. If you are feeling better after 5 minutes…keep going for 30 minutes!  Your body was just  mentally tired, but physically it needed a release.
  3. Sleep: If you are chronically overtired be sure catch some zzz’s.  6-10 hours is the goal.  If you tried strategy #2 and you felt worse, use the next 20 minutes for a nap.  Short naps (~20 minutes) have been shown to have beneficial effects.  Don’t snooze too long as you may be left feeling groggy. 
  4. 4. Change of scenery: simply getting out of your usual environment can drastically change your psyche!  Check out a new hiking trail or if you can swing a weekend get-away go for it!



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