Recharge and Recover

As humans we expect success after hard work. At the end of the day we are exhausted, yet we still have a long list of uncompleted tasks. Why does this happen? Continuous, cognitive stimulation.  We must stop, recharge and recover, in order to begin to be productive again. Just because the work clock stops each day at 5:00 pm, doesn’t mean we are recharging. How often do you spend the evening grappling with solutions to work problems? Talking about work over dinner? Falling asleep thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list? Lie in bed for hours, unable to fall asleep because your brain is thinking about work?

Co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post Arianna Huffington shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives.  In her book The Sleep Revolution, Arianna explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power. 

She writes “We sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity, but ironically our loss of sleep, despite the extra hours we spend at work, adds up to 11 days of lost productivity per year per worker, or about $2,280.”  She explores the history of sleep, the role of dreams, the consequences of sleep deprivation and the vital role sleep plays in every aspect of our health from weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. [1]

But rest and recovery are not the same thing. As authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz have written, if you spend too much time in the performance zone, you need more time in the recovery zone, otherwise you risk burnout. The value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us.  We live in a digital time, our pace is usually rushed, we face crushing workloads and we try to cram as much as possible into each and every day. [2]

In order to recover, we need to be willing to turn off our brain. Spend some time away from your phone, eat lunch away from your desk, and actually use your vacation time. Does your home office have a door? Shut it at 5:00 pm and keep it shut during off hours.  Schedule short breaks throughout the workday to shift your attention to something else; walk the dog, sit by the pool, meditate. Download an app such as Breath, Calm, Mindfulness or Simply Being to help you get started on the path to recharge and recover.

[1] The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, by Arianna Huffington, ISBN 978-1-101-90400-8.

[2] The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, ISBN 978-0-7432-2675-2. Jim Loehr is chairman, CEO, and co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, a training company that has successfully utilized energy management technology to improve the productivity and engagement levels of elite performers from the world of business, sport, medicine, and law enforcement for over 30 years.  Tony Schwartz is President and CEO of The Energy Project, which helps individuals and organizations perform at their best.


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