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Investing In Micro-Recovery

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While everyone knows that they should eat healthier, sleep better, and move more, sometimes the stress and pressures of daily life can make it feel like these goals are impossible to achieve.

However, instead of feeling guilty and discouraged, we can find ways to incorporate small and refreshing 'recovery snacks' into our busy schedules. This is known as micro-recovery.


"I don't have the time" is the most obvious excuse for not ticking everything off our to-do list.

When we say we don't have time however, what we often mean is that we don't have the motivation.

While we might have the time late in the day to tick something off our list after the kids have gone to bed, too often we don't have the energy at this time of day to do

anything useful.

As a result of feeling time-poor, we become overwhelmed, exhausted and end up in a downward spiral. We eat junk food, drink a bottle of wine, and stay up late, and then miss our morning workout the next day.

One way to maintain a more sustainable level of energy and productivity throughout the day is to find quick and easy ways to boost our energy levels that don't involve large amounts of time.

For most people, this means a snack or a coffee. However, there are other ways to refresh so that we don't burn ourselves out by mid-afternoon.


Micro-recovery means that instead of taking one 'self-care day' a week, or thinking of stress-recovery as requiring big chunks of time we don't have, we take micro-breaks throughout the day that energise and refresh us.

Time is a finite resource. We only have 24 hours in a day. Stamina and focus, however, are renewable resources, while time is not. When we invest a small amount of time into regularly topping up our energy reserves throughout the day, we reap the dividends later on. If it weren't for these moments of micro-recovery, we would otherwise start to flag or feel like giving up.

Our energy levels can be renewed by doing specific things at specific times

throughout the day.

The most straight forward but often overlooked way to achieve micro-recovery is to take a proper mental and physical break. The key to finding time for breaks is to

keep an eye out for 'transition moments' between tasks or activities.

Good examples might include walking between meetings, carrying something from one place to another, or jumping in and out of the car in between errands.


For many people today, taking a break means going from one mentally taxing activity straight to the online world.

The urge to check the internet or doom-scroll the news is ever-present. However, the effect of these kind of breaks is often overload and anxiety, not calm and recovery.

So, what does an efficient micro-break look like?

Firstly, any kind of activity that brings our mind back to the present moment is a great place to start. Focusing on slow, deep breathing is one option. Doing something with our hands is another.

Secondly, we can move around, stretch, and if possible, get outside into blue and

green spaces.

New research is shedding light on the stress-reducing power of outdoor spaces to refresh our mind and body. The thing about time spent in parks and near water is that it is interesting enough to not be boring, but not so over-stimulating as to be overwhelming.

Finally, we can quickly boost our moods by experiencing quick bursts of positive emotion. The key is to have a short list of favourite 'quick wins' at hand.

It might be listening to a favourite song, reflecting on the things that are going well, or anticipating an upcoming weekend away or holiday. Do what works for you.


Reflect: When you are tempted to just 'push through for another few hours', try getting up and taking a conscious and deliberate break, and then coming back to your work in a different frame of mind. Overcome the belief that pausing means you are 'weak or that time not spent 'being busy is time wasted.

Plan: Don't overschedule every minute of your day. Time block gaps between meetings or appointments if you can so as to avoid that 'back-to-back' feeling if you're a leader establish the habit of ending meetings sharply after 45 minutes. No ifs or buts.

Act: Reframe moments of frustration as moments of micro-recovery. How? When you are waiting for something - in a queue, for the kettle to boil, or for someone to arrive to a meeting - instead of pulling out your phone and overloading yourself with distraction, take the opportunity for a micro-recovery break or a moment of stillness.