Training and physical activity alone is not the only thing that can wear you out. All activity- physical, mental, emotional when in excess can wear you down and burn you out.
Processing is Power
If you're like me, one of the hardest things in life can be to slow down and do nothing.
I remember my first time sitting a 10-day silent meditation retreat- there was no reading, writing, no internet, no cell phones, no talking, no exercising besides walking, and no talking...for 10 days.
It was such a struggle in the beginning. I squirmed during the hours of meditation. I would go into the bathroom just to jump up and down and try to release pent up energy. I walked every chance I got, and I even made up games to occupy myself like only using my non-dominant hand for a day.
After a few days my mind finally let go of the idea of trying to do something. I discovered that a lot of the actions we take, the words we speak, and the thoughts we think are unnecessary. Often times, it's just a filler. But, just like fillers in processed food, they do nothing for you. They actually inhibit you and block your ability to absorb real food or in this case, the present moment.
When I finally let go of trying to control the moment and just be with it I was filled with energy. When I got back home I had sustainable energy and laser like focus for the things that really mattered. I felt stronger in my workouts and more connected.
Your brain is taking in loads of information non-stop.
When you decrease stimulation and give yourself time to process and regenerate it's like unlocking doors within your own being. You get bursts of creativity, stamina, increased willpower, and clarity.
Studies have shown that a regular meditation practice may increase cortical thickness and slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with problem solving. (For more see this blog post)
If you can take 10 days for a meditation retreat and then maintain a practice I highly recommend it. It's life changing, but even just 20 minutes a day, done consistently, can bring life changing results.
Body Restoration- Train Smarter Not Harder
To increase strength and size connective tissue must experience stress. With recovery your body heals from that stress, adapts and gets stronger. Recovery is critical and it's so often overlooked. Taking one solid day off per week from tough training is useful for your physique, performance, and mindset.
Within the training week it is essential to vary your intensity and train different muscle groups and energy systems.
I believe everyone needs a training program at any stage in their life for any goal. With a training program your rest and active recovery is programmed in. You work smarter not harder by implementing periodization so you can reach new peaks and achieve new fitness gains in a systematic and mindful way versus just sweating buckets, risking injury, and spending precious time, just hoping what you want to happen magically appears.
Progress isn't everything, but it sure can bring a smile to people's faces and boost their mood and confidence. When you are aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it you not only build muscle, strength, and endurance, you build self-awareness and knowledge.
If you're interested in a training program please see my coaching page.
Taking 20 minutes per day, 1 day per week, 1 week per quarter, 1 month per year to simply take time to just be, do less, consume less, and process can help you accomplish EVERYTHING with more ease and enthusiasm.
For more check out this article I wrote for Livestrong.com to recover and thrive.
10 yoga poses to speed up your workout recovery