For many adults, the weekend is a time to relax, breathe, see friends and recreate.
However, for many sport-playing teens, the weekend is game time. The work of the week comes to fruition.
Depending on your disposition, you might consider those adults lazy or those kids overworked. Regardless, no one will dispute that we need rest to function properly.
Here are a few key tenants of rest to make the most of the time away.What makes good rest?
To maximize rest, you must do something that gathers energy rather than expelling it. It is a process of recovery, not an amorphous mass of random relaxation.
Rest is active and intentional. Intense physical activity will drain you socially, emotionally, cognitively, spiritually and, well, physically. You may feel too exhausted to engage with things you normally enjoy, or things you need to do.
However, recovery involves finding balance, especially in the aspects of your life that feel most drained. Try sitting down with closed eyes and a clear mind, allowing your body to alert you to whatever needs recovery. If you need a break from other people and your legs feel like marshmallows, a solitary ice bath or time spent reading might help. If your brain feels like Swiss cheese but you want to interact with others, some social video games may recharge you. Take the time to determine what, exactly, needs the rest.Not all rest is created equal
Rest, like most other aspects of the human experience, varies based on the person. What helps one person recharge might not help another. Some people recover in front of the TV; others leave it more exhausted than they began.
Ask yourself, is that activity causing you to feel more energized, or less? Activities you enjoy are likely to be restful. One person might find a game of chess refocuses them and refreshes their body and mind. On the other hand, that same game of chess might cause another person to break down with stress.
Similarly, while many athletes will benefit from "laying low" between practices or before games, others might find they need to actively engage instead.
Coaches and parents would benefit from gaining an understanding of their individual players' needs to help interpret different resting behavior.
Get high quality sleep!
A friend of mine recently told me a story. He had a day off and made no plans. He would simply go to bed early, wake up late and recover from a hard workweek.
Yet, he looked at the clock after finishing another game of Fortnite, and, to his dismay, saw the time – 1:30 a.m. He went to bed, but woke up at his regular time (7:30 a.m.) feeling like his real body had been involved in the Fortnite battles. He laid in bed and scraped together another 20 minutes of broken sleep before giving up and beginning his off day exhausted.
What's the point of this story? Fortnite itself isn't inherently evil. Instead, my friend failed to take control of his sleep in spite of his intentions. Good, high quality sleep requires planning. While teenagers often sleep in much later than their usual wake up time when given the opportunity, it is still worth paying attention to your normal wake time, and trying to fall asleep 7-8 hours beforehand. And yes, 7-8 hours really is a magic amount of sleep for our bodies to achieve peak performance.
Keep the blue lights away, create a regular sleep routine and begin thinking relaxing, restful thoughts in the half hour leading up to actually hitting the pillow.Rest can include physical activity
Changing up the routine with a different activity from the one you're resting from can be effective. If a basketball player needs to recharge and loves tennis, he/she can recover by picking up the old racket and hitting balls.
While this might seem counter-intuitive, as mentioned above, everyone recovers differently. As long as the exercise isn't too intense and the sport or game is different enough from the primary sport at hand, some players will rest by engaging in alternative physical activities. Watch for burnout
If you continually ignore your body and mind's signs to rest, you'll eventually reach the dreaded stage of burnout. Burnout occurs when you lose interest or begin losing interest in an activity you normally enjoy.
You might reject the idea of going to practice, feel tired on your way to a game, dread the idea of socializing with your teammates or other incarnations of a loss of interest, but the message is obvious – you are doing too much.
When burnout occurs, you need to step away for a while. Other activities can help with burnout, such as gratitude practice and evaluating your reasons for playing, but resting can be crucial for reigniting the flame that powered you throughout your career.
Connor Hartley is a mental performance consultant from Tacoma, Washington. He teaches mental skills to athletes, musicians, students and other types of performers, including elite athletes in soccer, basketball and golf. Hartley has a master's degree in mental health counseling with a focus in sport psychology from Boston University and a bachelor's in psychology from Loyola Marymount University. Reach him on Facebook (Hartley Performance) Twitter (@connorhartleySP) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.