In Work In: The Athlete’s Plan for Real Recovery and Winning Results, Erin Taylor shares new mental and physical recovery techniques for athletes who give it all in every workout. Here are a few signs that it’s time for you to pause and focus on resetting.
It’s hard to know when it’s okay to slow your roll and, more important, when to allow yourself to stop. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you to rest. You don’t need permission. You are the only one who can put your foot on the brakes. Your performance and overall well-being will suffer if you power on. You might feel too busy to slow down, but, ironically, it is the times when you’re most frazzled that it’s critical for you to work in.
Your body will tell you everything you need to know about what it needs. Learn to listen to its cues. Here are some signals that your body is asking you to work in:
• Your breathing is erratic
• You’re mentally unfocused or feel out of control
• You’re finding it difficult to maintain a broad perspective
• You’re “going through the motions” and not really getting the benefit out of your workouts
• You feel like you’ve hit a performance plateau
• Your workouts are adding to your everyday stress rather than helping you to manage it
• You find it difficult to wind down even when the opportunity for rest presents itself
• You feel exhausted yet you are having trouble sleeping
When in doubt, don’t be afraid to err on the side of rest. Trust yourself to start recognizing these signs as invitations to work in and you will sharpen your intuition and your ability to be more flexible in your approach, which will serve you well in all your pursuits.
Try this mental focus exercise to get you started on working in:
Anchoring your mind to your innate, constant action of breathing is a great way to increase and maintain awareness of your breath so that you can use it to full advantage and sharpen your present moment focus.
Take a deep breath in . . . a slow breath out.
Continue to deepen your breathing.
Inhaling, say in your head, “I am inhaling . . . ”
Exhaling, say, “I am exhaling.”
Inhale: “I am inhaling . . . ”
Exhale: “I am exhaling.”
Continue for several rounds before letting go of the words.
Continue to breathe deeply.
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