Our culture doesn’t value the need for daily recovery or healing.
In times of trauma or intense stress we might seek it out and grasp it for a moment, but on a day-to-day basis, we push
and at the end of the day we can’t understand why we’re so exhausted.
After this past year, it's safe to say that we could all use some healing and recovery. But how do we TRULY heal and recover?
Healing and recovery are similar, but they have one key difference. Healing requires emotions to be involved to truly heal, while recovery doesn’t always require emotions to be effective.
We recover the most when we sleep (and let’s be honest, sleeping is literally one of our favorite things). But as kids we hated sleep! Kids fight to get away from nap time, whereas as an adult we all would LOVE nap time. Why the difference?
It has to do with our mindset and our responsibilities. As kids we didn’t have many responsibilities, our mindset was in free-play mode. So, at the time, we didn’t require as much mental recovery time when we were faced with a stressor (like crashing our bike or losing a toy) as we now do as adults. Think about it, children heal quicker than adults. When they have a fracture it heals better, it’s been proven that it takes a younger mind less time to learn something as well. A growing mind and body recovery quicker.
The problem I have found as a personal trainer over the last 10 years is that we have not been taught the importance of recovery; whether that be recovering physically after an injury or mentally after a day of work. The closest thing I have found that most people interpret as “recovery” (besides sleep) is “decompression”.
What we’re looking for, and trying to label is, that feeling we get when we have the chance to recover from the day. So in reality, the words “decompress” vs. “recover” don’t really matter, the actions we take to make them happen do.
How we choose to decompress or recover makes a difference. For example, if you decompress by watching the news, it won’t be very effective because there’s a good chance something in the news will stimulate an emotional response. But if you take a bath or meditate, for example, that would be a better way to decompress or recover because you are giving your mind what it truly wants.
Remember, sleep is the ultimate form of recovery, so when you are choosing to recover or decompress, choose activities that simulate similar relaxing feelings as sleep.
The last thing you need to consider is, How often do you need to recover? The answer is DAILY!! Your mind is stimulated all day and it needs time to recharge (and it deserves it). When you notice a craving to relax or decompress don’t fight that, your body is trying to tell you something.
Healing, on the other hand, can be a little more challenging. According to dictionary.com the definition of “to heal” is,
“To make healthy, whole, or sound; free of ailment”
As society has evolved we have learned more and more about the importance of honoring our emotional state. When we push emotions down, they end up coming out either way, right? Most of our healing (outside of physical wounds) is emotionally based. Whether that be healing from grief, anger, sadness, or stress, all of those experiences require healing and all are based in very strong emotions.
Facing these negative emotions head on isn’t exactly pleasant. But living with them inside of us, allowing them to trigger us so easily isn’t pleasant either.
You see, these wounds are established through pain. Not pain in the physical sense, but in the mental sense. The only healthy way to heal mental pain is through experiencing emotions. You need to feel the emotions and understand what caused them so you can move forward.
Here’s an example: Arguments with your partner or best friend (I would bet you have been in more than one argument with that person). Can you remember what all of them were about? I bet not. But there are probably a few that still feel easily triggered or the emotions feel potent.
What makes those special? The answer is, you weren’t able to HEAL from them. Anytime we engage in an argument there needs to be a re-connection. In order to reconnect normally, an apology or acknowledgment is required. What does that do? It’s not about saying the other person is right or wrong, it’s a way for one person to say to the other, “I might not agree, but I care about you and I don’t like that you’re hurt”. See the difference?
When it comes to healing there are two important keys: the first is that healing requires emotions to move on. The second is that it is YOUR responsibility, not others.
Even if someone else wronged you, it is still on you to heal yourself.
I get it. It’s natural to want the other person to heal you. But really what is happening is you’re assigning meaning to something that happened involving the other person. Because communication (with anyone!) is tricky, and there is a lot that is unsaid, misinterpreted, and assumed, there’s a good chance you very simply misunderstood the person that “caused you’ pain. Because the people we truly love have also earned our trust to not maliciously try to hurt us.
The point is, if you leave your healing to someone else, you lose your power because you become reliant on someone else to make you feel whole again. When you take ownership of your need to heal and your capacity to heal yourself, you can become whole whenever you feel strong enough to take on the emotions. That is power!
Our society has instilled certain values within us, most of them good, but the need to recover and heal has been misunderstood. Life is about balance in ALL aspects, so take action and choose to VALUE your need to heal and recover.
If you do, you might be surprised how peaceful you will feel.