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The more I learn about the human body, the more parallels I find between fitness and everyday life.  One of the biggest similarities is the stress/recovery process, which for the purpose of this article will be focused on how this relates to our careers/jobs.  This is a hot button for me and I apologize in advance for the language, but it's the most effective way to inflect my "writing voice."

It doesn't matter what the stress input is (ie. lifting heavy weights, running five 5 miles, or working 12 hour days), without equal recovery, our bodies are going to fight back with negative feedback.  The consequences of heavy stress on the body without recovery may not show for several months, weeks, or years but it will surface at some point.

Let's think about this in fitness terms and look at Crossfit.  At it's core, Crossfit is a quality strength and conditioning program.  If done properly, there should be periods of strength work, conditioning work, skill work, and rest.  What it has morphed into in many "boxes" is balls to the wall conditioning work 5 days a week in form of METCONS.  You might see solid body composition changes for a while but redlining that much is just not sustainable. You are attempting to pull money out of an ATM that is out of cash.  What happens next is feeling like shit (injury, sickness) and/or lack of motivation leading to quitting.  In no way am I singling out Crossfit, it's just a popular form of training that the masses can relate to.  The same thing happens everyday in regular gyms.  For example, there's a guy at my gym that wears an elevation mask for literally an hour and a half straight while he runs, lifts, and does some weird jump squat thing in the corner. 

Ok, I get the fitness part.  How does this relate to my job though? 

Here's how: the overworking/under recovering mentality is the norm in Corporate America.  People brag to their colleagues about how hardcore their work schedule is.  "No Pain No Gain" and "I'll Sleep When I Die" attitudes are glorified and if you aren't working 60+ hours/week, you aren't working hard enough. 

President Clinton was applauded for only sleeping 4 hours a night while in office "working for America."  He was even quoted saying "sleep is overrated."  Well guess what?  President Clinton had a fucking quadruple bypass heart surgery.  He did not have proper recovery in relation to the stress being put on his body.  Now President Clinton spends some of his time spreading awareness that "maybe the whole sleep thing is kind of important."  See what I'm saying? Short term thinking to the Nth degree.  Did you ever notice that the people at work who are the most stressed and run at the most extreme paces non stop, seem to be sick more than others?

Short term thinking that risks your health is never a good idea.  The question you need to ask yourself about your job is this- can I continue doing what I am currently doing 5 years from now?  If the answer is no, make some fucking changes- NOW!

And change includes building more recovery into your job.

Practical Recovery Recommendations
  • Take days off, and I mean really take days OFF.  No email on the beach or phone calls on the weekend.  Completely detach. 
  • Remember that at the end of the day, it's just work and not life or death!  Taking care of yourself is the #1 priority over anything else. (Disclaimer- before rushing to judgement on this comment, think that if your health isn't in order you won't be around for your kids/family)
  • Split your day up into several work bursts followed by mini breaks.
  • Wind down at night with something that relaxes you, unrelated to social media.
  • At a minimum, work on getting 6+ hours of sleep a night.

If you say there's no way you can implement any of the above, you have to wake up and make a change for your health's sake.  Even if you have to talk to your boss and explain that the current pace and workload is taking a toll on your body.  I know that's a tough conversation to have but he/she is going to have to address your concerns.  If they say to suck it up, maybe it's time to find a new job.

If you take one thing from this article, make it that the amount of stress put on the body needs an equal amount of recovery!

 


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