Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Maximize your recovery, part of Building Resilience.
Are you a person that mulls over and analyzes everything again and again? Or do you have an easy time compartmentalizing your life? I find that if something stressful has happened in one part of my life, it tends to infect and dominate my thinking and my feelings. In short, it can make your entire life miserable. That's why after a stressful event, I recommend that you evaluate your actions and take these three important recovery steps. First, take a break.
I mean this in a physical, emotional and mental way. Leave the location if you can, put your energy somewhere else for awhile and try to think of something else. This type of timeout should be short but disciplined. For example, if a promotion at work you applied for didn't come through and it's costing you a lot of energy, take a day off, and engage in something completely different. Number two, redirect. If you step away and try to do something else for a day or so, your main goal is to redirect your energy.
Nothing is gained by rethinking the circumstances and analyzing all events. Number three, reconnect. Since you walked away after evaluating your actions in the challenging situation, you get to come back with a fresher perspective and hopefully more energy. Some of your thoughts on your initial evaluation may have changed or become more clear. Review them, and then prioritize on which ones are actionable. I literally learned the power of recovery after a bike accident a few years back.
For the past 15 years, I've raced in triathlons, the sport where you get to swim and bike and run for close to about two and a half hours in the Olympic distance. About eight years ago, I had travelled to a different state, spent the night in a hotel, and was hoping to race and qualify for the national championship the next day. The swim was pretty smooth and the sun was starting to come down on the transition area, making the start of the bike a comfortable temperature. I was feeling good, so I rode the first ten miles in a comfortable pace, feeling pretty relaxed, I reached for my water bottle, making the position of my handlebars unstable for a split second.
At that spot, the pavement met the bridge with a metal ground seal and it sent me crashing into the asphalt at 22 miles an hour. It was an unexpected, pretty spectacular and very painful fall. Thankfully, the injuries were not as bad as they would have been, but the whole experience was pretty scary. Having had other bike mishaps in the past, I was prepared to deal with the physical adversity. But I was able to continue in the sport because of what I did after the accident.
Initially, I really had to take a break. And after evaluating what I could have done differently, I tried not to mentally repeat the last few minutes I remember on the bike. I literally had to practice disciplined thought-stopping techniques because that's all my mind wanted to do. I redirected my energy to things I could do while healing from my injuries and finally reconnected with the fresh attitude a few weeks later. My happiest day around the incident was the following year, where I went back to the same race, rode the same course and had a chance to execute everything while staying upright on my bike and qualifying for nationals.
It took time, energy and a lot of focus to get there. It's an experience that definitely made me stronger. Athletes work hard on their training and harder on their recovery. If your goal is to raise your resilience threshold, recovery for you is equally as important. Be disciplined about taking a break, redirecting and reconnecting after stressful work and life events. You will be stronger next time you face adversity.