Balancing Stress and Recovery

To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do. Stress is not the enemy in our lives. Paradoxically, it is the key to growth.

stress-and-recoveryIn order to build strength in a muscle we must systematically stress it, expending energy beyond normal levels. Doing so literally causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. At the end of a training session, functional capacity is diminished. But give the muscle twenty-four to forty-eight hours to recover and it grows stronger and better able to handle the next stimulus. Expose a muscle to ordinary demand and it won’t grow. With age it will actually lose strength.

What applies to the body applies equally to the other dimensions of our lives. We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity.

We grow at all levels by expending energy beyond our ordinary limits and then recovering.

To meet increased demand in our lives, we must learn to systematically build and strengthen muscles wherever our capacity is insufficient. Any form of stress that prompts discomfort has the potential to expand our capacity —physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually— so long as it is followed by adequate recovery.

Summing-up: We can maximize performance by alternating periods of activity with periods of rest. Full engagement requires cultivating a dynamic balance between the expenditure of energy (stress) and the renewal of energy (recovery) in all dimensions.

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