The Science of Chillaxing – Recovery is Critical to Peak Performance

Love this Ad pic from ESPN – a few years back.

Perhaps you know someone like the dude melting into the couch in this photo…

Perhaps they drive you a bit crazy because they spend hours doing nothing but sitting there, occasionally grunting and groaning, sometimes shouting at the bright box in front of them… and if lucky, cheering every once in a while with ridiculous excitement, seeming like they have just won $500mil at the lotto…

First word that comes to mind for many looking at this pic?


(Although the younger generation tells me it’s not being lazy… it is called “chillaxing” and it is a good thing)

Well – many of us still look down on people taking it easy… and perhaps rightfully so because of the mounting numbers of kids, young adults, and many from other demographics who are spending too much time inactive.

HOWEVER – although we may criticize people for being too lazy, we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater (or the flatscreen out with the recycling??).

Taking it easy at the right time is absolutely critical to high performance. Getting your mindset right around things like time off, recovery, and having fun is essential if you are going pursue excellence in any endeavour.

Problem is… we are not actually getting this right a lot of the time.

I spent 4 years of my life writing a PhD about athletes, some the best in the world in their sports, who messed up their recovery, believed that the only way to the top or to stay on top was to work harder, at all costs. I wrote a book about this research – Overtraining Athletes – and I can tell you that too many high performers push past the limits of their bodies and suffer for it. Sport science tells us that recovery is just as important as the hard work you put in – without it your mind and body won’t be ready to take advantage of all that hard work and perform at a peak.

Question is – where in your life are you hitting the “more is better” button one too many times? Feeling guilty about a bit of time out for yourself? Feeling weak because you are not working harder, despite feeling burnt out? Putting in 12 and 14 hour days because that is the norm, and still demanding of yourself to be at peak performance? Having trouble admitting to others, and maybe even yourself, that you are struggling, and that a bit of recovery time (and possibly some help from others) might be the remedy?

In my world – I say Weak is tough – it is tough to admit to weakness, fatigue, vulnerability and then do something about it, but you have to do the tough things if you want to achieve excellence.

If you need to chillax a bit to make sure you can recharge your energy stores, be courageous, admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired, and don’t see recovery as a guilty pleasure; rather, see it as a responsibility to your body and your mind – as long as you get back in action once you are feeling good again!

Love to hear your thoughts.

Dr Sean R

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