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  • TJ Janicky

How to Balance Your Stress and Rest for Optimal Performance

Updated: Jul 22, 2022

Whether you are meeting a deadline at work or attempting to qualify for the Olympics, an optimal balance between stress and rest can make the difference between failing to meet your goals, impressing your boss or taking home the gold.

The word balance can mean something quite different for each of us. What remains constant across all humans is that tipping the scale too far in one direction can have dramatic effects on performance and output.

The modern work day is no longer an average of 8 hours. With the rapid increase in remote working, the time we are connected to our work continues to grow. An unbalanced stress to rest ratio can also have dramatic effects on pain and risk of injury in sport. These effects can further extend beyond our work lives to our personal lives especially if remaining active is a critical part of our daily routine. Authors Brad Stulburg and Steve Magness cover this topic extensively in their book “Peak Performance”, a highly recommended read if any of the above resonates with you.

Here are a few easy steps you can take right now to improve your stress to rest ratio.

Prioritize sleep:

Sleep plays a critical role in the physiology of recovery both from a muscular and neurochemical perspective. Getting to bed around the same time each night AND obtaining your optimal number of hours of sleep can be the deciding factor between a productive day and a day in which there just never seems to be enough caffeine.

Strategic breaks:

Cognition is stress. Whether you are deciding what to wear in the morning or making a high stakes business decision, mental breaks following can optimize cognitive output for future tasks. Work in blocks of 45 to 60 minutes with 5-10 minute rest breaks between tasks. Meditate or take a brief walk to reset and get ready for the next project.

Take time off

If you just started a new job and are putting the pedal to the metal for the first 6 months or training for a marathon, think work hard, play hard! Extended time away where you can completely turn your mind off from your usual work can set

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