Creating Recovery Cycles

One of the core elements of job burnout is chronic exhaustion.

The problem is not so much getting tired. When working at full capacity, people get tired. Being fully involved in an important activity makes demands on your concentration, your emotions, and your body. Through any sustained effort, people cash in some of their resources. Being tired is a sign of working hard. The problem is staying tired.

Personal energy runs in cycles. Actually, it is more accurately multiple cycles. Some cycles are quite short, within a few minutes of a workday. Other cycles span hours with still other cycles that cross days or weeks. Sustaining an energetic commitment requires cycles that replenish energy effectively.

Staring Small

On the micro level of day-to-day work, the small cycles make a difference. The first principle is that often a change is as good as a rest. That is, it is important to do something that differs from your primary work activity.

If you sit for long periods in your work—as many do, spending their days tending computers—it is important to stand up and move around. Sitting in one position for long periods results not only in stiff muscles, but narrows the range of ideas coming your way.

Mastering the small cycles need not be a big deal. Just getting up, walking around the room, and sitting back down can make a difference. Stretching your arms out or over your head rearranges your mind and body. The issue is not being dramatic in any way, but to be effective, you need to look after the small cycles a few times a day. One time walking about will not get you through the whole workday.

For work that requires moving about, the necessary change would be moving differently or becoming still. The essence is to get yourself into a different state of body and mind. Looking after the small cycles to assure that you are not only using energy but replenishing it as well builds resilience for the long term.

How do you master the small cycle in your work day?

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