By now, many of you will know what I mean when I say, ‘slivers of recovery’. If you don’t, it’s fairly simple: small things that you can do throughout the day to rest. Specifically, to take the heat off your sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the body’s fight or flight response. This is something I believe we could all be better at, giving ourselves little opportunities to reset before going back at it. And ultimately, it means we can arrive home with enough energy to do the things we want. For example, spending time with our families, housemates, or perhaps just ourselves at the end of each day. In doing so, we can not only beat burnout, but also have more fun in both life and work.
A Stressful Situation
Animals are really good at doing this, and I want to share an anecdote to show you just how useful slivers of recovery can be. I have a Romanian rescue dog, Kami, the apple of my eye. And she used to scratch around an area behind the bench in the back garden. Occasionally she’d come in, nose covered in dirt, but we thought nothing of it. In fact, we just assumed she was sniffing around the flower beds, as dogs do. One day, she’s by the bench doing her usual thing, we turn around, the next minute, she’s gone. We can’t find her anywhere. Eventually, I looked around the back of the bench to find that slowly and steadily, she had been digging a burrow. A burrow in which she was now stuck. All we can see is her soil-encrusted snout and eyes wide as saucers with terror.
A Restful Response
We were also pretty frightened because if she scrambled too much the soil could have easily blocked her escape route. So, we quickly scraped away the soil, using a spade to stop it falling back in as we pulled her out of the hole. Once she was out, her nervous system was so amped up that she did what animals do best. She took herself straight down to the lawn, and went to sleep–only for about 10 minutes–before getting back up and carrying on as normal. Here’s why I’m telling you this story. Kami didn’t just escape and then go onto the next thing. She gave herself that opportunity to rest. She took a break; let her nervous system dial down a bit by putting herself to sleep.
What Can You Do?
Now, you may not be able to take yourself off to sleep when you’re working towards a deadline or your boss is asking for a report that you don’t have time to prepare. But there are things you can do–a minute of breathwork, looking out the window, daydreaming–to gather your thoughts before diving straight into something else. Backing off beats burnout. What can you do to take the edge off the pace and build in those vital slivers of recovery?
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