Recovery is a Skill
Our ability to recover from difficult challenges effectively and quickly is a skill that needs refining, and for some a complete reboot.
When most people think of stress management they just think of deep breaths, stress balls, and some may even actively practice yoga and meditation.
The problem with the methods above is that they can be superficial, too passive, too late, or all the above.
Our ability to manage stress is directly correlated to your ability to recover from a stressful situation. One of the best ways I have learned to practice immediate recovery from stress is through strength and conditioning.
You see, the rest component in your workouts is not simply waiting for the next set to begin, the timer to go off, or to check your last text message. Your rest set is actually one of the most crucial parts in training that is overlooked.
During your resting set, however long (or short), is the moment where you practice the skill of recovering your mental and physical state. This is done by taking back control of your breathing, dropping your heart rate, and visualizing your performance.
When we begin to reach Heart Rate Maximum our mental and motor functions start to deteriorate. So it's not that you're weak or inadequate to perform the exercise but in fact your body is overloaded. You have surpassed your body's ability to handle stress and pain/injury is just around the corner.
Our breath is our direct access to our nervous system and gives us the ability to take control of an otherwise uncontrollable and unrecoverable situation.
When you strategically use your resting set to implement breathwork and visualization, you gain the ability to regulate your heart rate to a more manageable level. At which point, your nervous system switches from sympathetic (survival) to more parasympathetic (rest) state. This allows for your mental and physical state to return to a more effective and efficient state to maximize the effectiveness and execution of your next bout.
You might be reading this and saying okay so I just need to breathe more. Not exactly.
Implementing breathwork and visualization in the middle of a stressful situation takes constant practice, focus, and discipline. Every set from start to finish needs to involve this implementation of active recovery. The more you practice the more efficient you become at reading and regulating your body while shifting closer to optimization versus survival. In time, you become more resilient to stress.
Performance is not simply how long you can survive or how much challenge you can take. It's about how well you can execute a task and effectively recover from the challenge to stay consistently healthy to repeat the process over and over again.