Why You Need Rest and Recovery After Exercise…And The Holiday Season

The rush of the holiday season may be behind us, but you may still be feeling the aftereffects well into the new year. Depending on how you spent your holidays, you may still feel exhausted from attending parties, increased socializing, cooking dinners, hosting family in your home, traveling to visit friends or family, etc. You may not have had adequate time to rest, and really recover from all the major activity that just occurred in a span of a couple months.

You may not realize how important rest and relaxation is, not only for exercise, but also in everyday life.

“No pain, no gain.”

“Push your limits.”

“If you’re not sweating, you’re not really exercising.”

While there is a certain amount of effort and pushing yourself necessary in exercise in order to improve, statements like these can give the wrong impression about working out. The key to making progress is less about pushing through pain and more about the daily movements and activities that keep you feeling good and able to do the things you love.

In fact, it’s not necessarily the push that gets you ahead. Your muscles need time to repair and rebuild after every workout. The greater the intensity or duration of your exercise, the greater the need for more frequency, length, and intensity of the recovery.

You only grow stronger when you allow yourself to recover. The more you rest and recover, the more you’ll be able to push when you do tougher exercises. Active recovery, which is light, low-impact movement, increases blood flow to your muscle tissue and speeds up your recovery. This won’t happen if you only keep pushing yourself physically with no time to rest.

But proper recovery includes getting enough sleep at night, staying hydrated, and practicing good nutrition. It’s also about managing your stress levels and taking care of your mental health.

Now that the busiest time of the year is winding down, give yourself the gift of rest and relaxation to recover from the holidays. Make a plan and reserve time for yourself to mentally, emotionally, and physically recover.

Let go of all the stressful things that may have happened over the holidays. Maybe you’re socially drained from all the parties and events you attended. Perhaps there was unexpected family drama. Maybe you were overwhelmed by the pressure of trying to cook an entire meal for your whole extended family. Whatever happened, let it all out and let it all go.

Now think about what kind of activities relax you. How do you feel when you think about taking a walk around the neighborhood, doing light relaxing yoga, or taking the time to paint? Relaxation doesn’t have to be extravagant or even active. If curling up on the couch with a good book or even getting some extra sleep sounds great to you, your body likely needs the rest. Carve out some time for yourself to rest and recover consistently, even if it is in small doses. When you understand how you feel and take care of yourself, not only will you feel better, but you’ll have more to give to others as well. Being intentional about your rest will supply you with more energy to stay engaged and active for the new year and for life.