Listen to your body: find your best winddown strategy.
by Amélie Desrochers
‘With great challenges come great responsibilities’, or so the saying goes.
Moments of intensity like COVID19 are likely to hold up a magnifying glass to our weaknesses as leaders. When demands start piling up, communications channels feel saturated, and Zoom meetings crowd our schedules, it’s so easy to lose our balance.
These periods deeply impact our bodies – we suddenly feel sore, as though we’re running out of steam. At this rate, it’s hard to build great things. We make ourselves one promise : as of Monday, things are going to change. We’re finally gonna break the cycle and get back on track. We fill the fridge with green juices and kale; it’s going to be a healthy week. We’re aiming for a STREAK to lead us all the way through the end. Of course, our health KPIs will go through the roof.
Just wait, you’ll see.
But too often, it ends up faltering at the sight of a cold craft beer and a late night burger. Tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll get back on track. Just wait.
You’ve been running on your reserve battery for weeks now. You’re in a perpetual state of crisis and you kind of like it – you’re in this for the long run. As a startup leader, you’re agile and reactive. You pivot and continuously adapt to changing scenarios. It’s like preparing for a great battle; you’re looking for that rush of adrenaline. After all, finding new solutions to emerging problems feels so satisfying. The only thing is : it’s not sustainable.
So, how do we get through this Iron Man race without losing steam?
Psychologist Sandra Taddeo points to Max Hénault, an internationally-renowned snowboarding coach, entrepreneur and straight up visionary. His not-so-secret secret: it’s all about pacing! Your body will always adapt to respond to what you’re asking of it…until it starts breaking down. You need peaks and valleys to find a healthy, sustainable rhythm. You need to learn how to pace yourself, even while in crisis mode. “ Obviously, none of us is immune to burning out. It’s important to pay attention to what your body is saying, ask the right questions and react quickly. The quicker you adjust, the more you get back on track.” Max says.
But as Sandra explains, it’s important to calibrate our expectations of ourselves too. “Forget about balance right now, it’s impossible to achieve when the world is upside down. The right recipe, the one that usually does the trick, is going to be good for 2-3 hours tops, because things are shifting quickly – and so are you.”
With that in mind, mastering the iteration process is a must right now. In fact, Sandra recommends avoiding anything that might resemble a rigid daily routine.
“ Your usual routine could be really counter-productive in moments like this. Like a surfer, you need to ride the wave, be super flexible and adapt constantly to new conditions. It’s also really ok to give yourself a few hours – or even several days – to have a total meltdown”
So you’re thinking about running a 10k to get your energy back? Maybe it’s a great idea. But pulling your shoes on, do a quick check-in with yourself. Are you truly feeling it? Maybe a 5K or 2.5K could do the trick. Maybe a chill walk followed by a warm bath is really what your body needs right now. You can even Netflix-binge without guilt. The day will come when you’re going to be outside running a 10k without having even planned it. Your body will lead you there, you’ll see.
“ The key to success right now and for the following hours is to be indulgent with yourself and listen. You’re allowed to let go and be super laid back at times. After your moments of relentless battle, releasing the pressure is actually a must and could be incredibly productive. As Max would say :