Active rest is fitness too

It’s a new year, a new variant, and the same old horse-puckey we’ve all been dealing with since March 2020. At almost two years into the pandemic, we are tired. So very, very tired.

When i look back at the past two years, i feel like a plant that has become root bound. I suspect we’ve all become a little root-bound because of our new normal. It’s what we are used to.

While the pot can be comfy and cozy, it’s also cramped. Parts of you fall asleep, and other parts get cranky and stiff. At a certain point, no matter how much water, sunshine or plant food you get, nothing much is going to happen.

Even before the pandemic, I was used to shaking up my approaches to work, life and fitness. I have tried tiny habits, participating in group challenges, sleep training, meal planning, and retreats. I have learned a lot, but I also discovered i have more to learn.

I spoke with a colleague who had protected a day a week in her schedule. No meetings, no emails, no phone calls. Some weeks she planned a new workshop, sometimes she read a new book, or researched an area new to her field.

While i was already used to protecting certain activities, i did not create space for recovery and selfcare. And that is really important.

When we embrace a new form of training, we can overdo it. We can over train. When we try a new pose, a new exercise or a new level of intensity, we may forget to rest.

This holiday season lead up was stressful. Omicron put paid to lots of stuff we had planned. i worried about senior parents, finding a booster, keeping my distance in a time when socializing is in hyper drive.

So I took my colleague’s idea and protected a whole chunk of time. I turned on my out of office settings. I did not look at my email. I turned off notifications. I loaded my e-reader with books. We made sure to plan meals and organize grocery pick ups. I got good sleep and I napped. I did my arm stretches and got rid of my tennis elbow.

It was peaceful, restful and totally chill. Over the New Year’s holiday, I looked hard at my calendar. I remembered advice a mentor gave me early in my career: choose something that will help you do your work better, choose something that will help you be a better human, and choose something that will bring joy to your life.

My calendar looks totally different. Programming down time to rest and also to explore new professional and personal commitments has opened up new possibilities. I’ll be exploring how i can incorporate different ways of practicing active rest and recovery over the next few months. Yoga and mediation are on my list. What’s on yours?