5 Tips for Downtime

I have to admit, I spend most of my time coming up with ways for you to stay motivated and strive to be your best.  Not just in your workouts but in your whole life too.  Holistic fitness is a bit earthy-crunchy, but if you take your whole life into account when you’re trying to stay fit you’ll be a lot more successful.  Busy times and unexpected emergencies always crop up.  It requires us to push harder than we’d like, probably for longer than we’d like too.  This is where downtime comes in. It’s healthy, necessary and keeps our stress levels in check.  Your body does need to rest and recover from workouts and stressful life events.  Here’s 5 tips to help you get there.

Relaxing in Lounge Chair at Beach

Plan a slug day. That’s what we call ‘em in my house I try to do at least one a month but hey, if you want to, go nuts and do one a week.  The idea is to power down and just hang out.  This can mean reading a book all day, playing video games or relaxing with friends.  The idea is that you’re just thoroughly enjoying yourself and not worrying about to-do lists or workouts or things you “should” be doing.

Plan Recovery after a busy period. You might have a crucial project at work that sees your burning the midnight oil or you might have just completed your first marathon.  Either way, you need to plan a recovery period.  Lighter workouts, smaller to do lists, a chance for your mind, body and spirit to recover from the exertion it’s just gone through.  When you start to feel restless then you’ll know it’s time to pick a new goal or project and go after it.

Get Enough Sleep. Even if you’re in a busy period you still need sleep.  Come up with a night time routine that makes you sleepy and try to unplug at least an hour before bed so you don’t have a digital hangover while you’re trying to drift off.  Without enough sleep you’ll just make silly mistakes and cost yourself a lot more time in the long run.  Believe me, I was just reminded of this lesson the hard way!   If you’re training for a big physical event your body desperately needs to sleep in order to repair itself and get ready for the next big workout.  It’s absolutely crucial, Michael Phelps was famous for his killer workouts and his daily naps, that’s what made him such a success, the balance of the two.

Even during a busy period, plan downtime. You’ve got this big mongo project on your plate and you have to get it done by X date.  You think if you just keep working and working and working then maybe, just maybe, you’ll get it done in time.  Nope.  You’ve gotta step away.  Marathon training automatically programs in rest as you increase your mileage.  You need to do the same thing if you’ve got a big life project.  Take a night off and don’t just go home and feel sorry for yourself, meet up with a friend, go to a movie, something you enjoy.  You’ll have so much more energy when you go back to your task.

Use what works. When you’re under stress, use what works best for you to alleviate it.  Don’t think about whether it’s silly or inappropriate.  If it’s reading a comic book, or vegging on the couch or getting a mani/pedi.  Whatever … if it makes you feel relaxed and stress free then that’s what you should do.  If someone else catches wind of it and gives you a hard time just shrug, you’re not stressed out and they probably are.

What are some tips that you use to combat stress either from working towards a big physical goal or a big event?  I’d love to hear what works for others.