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“Why rest and recovery are so important for performance”

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

In this blog we talk about the importance of rest and recovery for optimal performance in and outside of work. We look at neuroscience and biology and identify some key actions you can be taking to improve your output at work and overall feeling of wellbeing.

There are pillars to rest and recovery, including physical, mental, and emotional. Physical rest refers to taking a break from physical activity. It can also mean actively repairing muscles as well as replenishment of nutrition and hydration. Mental rest refers to taking a break from cognitive tasks such as those involved in studying or working. These are performed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is easily depleted of energy. And emotional rest refers to taking a break from stressful situations, relationships or interactions with others. All three types of rest are essential for optimal performance and health.

Neurologically when we rest, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which relaxes our muscles and slows down our heart rate. It also reduces blood pressure, increases digestion and immune function, promotes healing from injuries or illness, improves moods such as depression or anxiety, and helps us fall asleep faster at night. All of which are cornerstones in promoting a feeling of wellbeing.

When we rest the body releases hormones that act on various organs in order to restore energy levels. This might be after an intense workout session for example. These hormones include epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), growth hormone (GH) cortisol – all three of which are secreted by the adrenal glands located near your kidneys.

Failing to pay attention to rest can lead to a number of problems including chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. It can also impair our cognitive function and judgment, leading to poor decision-making. In addition, lack of sleep has been linked with increased levels of stress and anxiety.

When we look at these factors it's clear they have a major impact on our levels of performance. Anyone who seeks growth whether in business, personal development or athletically is seriously damaging their capacity for goal attainment without a considered and consistent approach to rest and recovery.

So how much rest do we need? The amount of rest required varies from person to person and of course is dependent how much energy we have exerted. The most fundamental aspect of rest and recovery of course is sleep. Most experts recommend getting between seven hours and nine hours of sleep per night. It's important to note that quality counts as well as quantity when it comes to your rest.

One of the best ways to ensure that you get enough quality rest is by having a routine. This could be going bed and waking at the same time. This allows our bodies an opportunity to adjust itself naturally through circadian rhythms while also providing structure during times when we may feel stressed out or overwhelmed. It's also important not just for adults but children too: Children who go without sufficient amounts of sleep are more likely than their peers who do get adequate shut eye at night over long periods time have problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety.

So to conclude, rest and recovery need to be considered of significant importance when considering our performance, health and emotional wellbeing and we would all do well to develop positive habits that ensure our down time is a maintained as a priority and not neglected.


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