How to master recovery

How to master recovery

Recovering from a non-recovery mindset


Growing up as a dancer, the idea of recovery didn’t exist. Period. I was so embedded in that world, I only thought about the concept as something I didn’t need. Power through, always. When I added running into my dance life,  I quickly realized neither could continue to progress in the I wanted it to without proper recovery. But…how?? 


Step 1 - get over the mental hurdle that valuing recovery is not a sign of weakness. If the formative idea of what it means to work hard is to keep trying at almost any cost, the idea of taking a day off has an outsized place of dread. How DO you get over this hurdle? For me,  understanding the physiology of the human body and the science behind how the anatomical structures function was paramount. Removing the emotion about how one relates to the word “rest” was also transformative. Just like I wouldn’t take a cake out of the oven before it was done, I shouldn’t take my body out of recovery until it it done. The cake won’t be stable until it’s fully baked, and I won’t be stable until my body regenerates. 


Step 2 - get proper sleep. Lots of us have sleep struggles, and suggesting this is an easy step is a a fools errand. That said, I had room for improvement and even slight increases in sleep have huge benefits. For me, this meant recognizing that I will always wake up around 7am, no matter how late go to sleep. From there, I had to work backwards to ensure I get into bed around 10:30pm - which also meant I had less to time to “relax” at the end of the day. I definitely rely on Beam’s hot chocolate to help me wind down, which has CBD and other gentle sleep aids. Everyone is different, though, and getting curious about how you can increase your sleep is a personal journey. As is the case with everything, remember to be kind to yourself when this all fails - as it definitely will from time to time. Just try again the next night. 


Step 3 - get consistent with the things we know work; drinking enough water, gentle stretching, spending time with friends and family, eating well most of the time. There are lots of fancy recovery products out there, some of which I use and love (shout out Air Relax compression boots and Oofos sandals), but all you really need are ways to let your body and mind relax - that can be a few deep breaths, a couple of stretches when you wake up, starting the day with a glass of water, and having a good laugh with a good friend. That can be saying no to a social event if you don’t feel like it, or booking a dinner with a friend 3 weeks away. 


Building the idea of recovery into your day-to-day takes some getting used to and re-evaluating your habits. I live in NYC in a 5-story walk-up, so it meant not taking the stairs everywhere I could even if there was an elevator. It meant sitting on the subway if possible, it meant ordering more take-out so I could skip that last errand of hauling my groceries up 5 flights to cook dinner. It will look different for you, but it will be worth it. 

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