How do you recover from stress?







November 9, 2022

I came across this excellent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article on stress recovery: How to Recover From Work Stress, According to Science.

Recovery is the process of restoring symptoms of work stress (anxiety, exhaustion, and elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol) back to pre-stressor levels. We refer to recovery as a skill, because knowing how and when you can best recover from stress requires both knowledge (of what works for you) and practice (actually doing it).

The article explains how recovery is standard practice for people in high-stress professions, like athletes and pilots:

Recovery in these fields doesn’t just happen when individuals feel depleted or burned out — it’s an essential part of the training and performance strategy.

I also found it fascinating that stress has a similar paradox as multitasking: the more we're affected by it, the more we underestimate the side effects and become powerless against them.

Research shows that when our bodies and minds need to recover and reset the most… we’re the least likely — and able — to do something about it. For example, when work is demanding and we’re feeling overwhelmed, we quickly slide into a negative cycle of working longer hours and taking fewer breaks… Further depleted, we have less energy and motivation to take time out to relax or engage in exercise, leading to low recovery and in turn further exhaustion the next day. Rinse and repeat.

The article makes several recommendations to counter stress, like taking mini-breaks throughout your day—something I do religiously as it's a key feature of our macOS app, Lifeline.

👉️ Read the full article on HBR

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