Step 1: Rest
To take a systemic approach to getting rest and recovery, we need to focus on the key internal triggers for the stress response: an overactive mind and an overwhelmed body.
When it comes to our cognitive workload, nothing seems to create more internal chaos than information overload. Our tendencies to be on the go nonstop and constantly connected to technology require our brains to continuously spend energy that we desperately need to replenish from time to time. Using simple mind-calming activities such as deep breathing, progressive relaxation, and meditation, we can train the brain to become more comfortable in a quiet, restorative state.
As discussed earlier, taking it easy is hard work without practice. So don't be surprised if it's uncomfortable for a while as you start trying to incorporate more downtime. It's like training your muscles in the gym: The more you practice, the easier it is to recover as you boost your cognitive fitness. Consider what it's like when you first start a workout routine. It can take several minutes to catch your breath, let alone feel strong and ready to exercise again. The same thing applies when training your brain: You need to push out of your comfort zone a little bit at a time, give yourself adequate recovery time to repair, and then push yourself again to build up strength and resilience.
The biggest indicator that we're overdoing our physical workload is chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the body's natural response to ...