You have so much going on at work and in your life in general, that it’s hard to find time to do what you need to in order to recover from RED-S / REDs (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport). Things just aren’t going to calm down, so what can you do?
Sports psychologist Marissa Norman thinks that the most important thing, which can also be the hardest, is to set boundaries with work. She shares some ideas about how to do that, including strategies that some of the athletes that she works with use to separate their sport from their home life.
Read the transcript
[Tina] I have a really stressful job or life that just isn’t gonna calm down. I just can’t prioritize these things that I need to do. So what should I do, because my life is just busy?
[Marissa] Okay, so one thing I’m gonna say is, I want to give you kudos for acknowledging that the stress is there, and that work is just gonna be busy, and that’s probably not gonna change. Sometimes I think it’s easy for us to give ourselves false hope that that’s not the case, or to push our feelings aside, and so just even acknowledging that and having the self-awareness is a great place to start.
As far as what to do to manage all of that chaos and stress, to me, I think the most important thing, which at times can be the hardest thing to implement, is setting boundaries with work. And that can look very different for everyone. But some things you might consider are things like taking your work email off of your personal phone, that’s something that we probably all struggle with. Things like not answering your phone when you’re home or after a certain hour, taking your PTO and your vacation, taking your lunch breaks. Maybe saying “No” to certain projects at work, and I know this is extremely challenging, especially if you work with the culture that praises poor boundaries. It’s important for us to remember that the workplace benefits from our poor boundaries, which is gonna make it harder for us to set them.
One kind of strategy that the athletes I work with use to help leave sport at sport, and when they go home, kind of leave that behind,i s kind of using the car as that transition phase. And this looks very different for different people, but this is one way to help us set those boundaries at work. So, maybe they’re using the car with a specific playlist that they play on their way home. And they’ve now associated that playlist with, “Okay, I’m winding down from work or from my sport and I’m heading home.”
Other athletes I’ve worked with like to split the time in half. The first half of the ride, they’re reflecting on their work day and what they’ve learned and what they want tomorrow to look like. And then the second half, thinking about, “Okay, when I get home, what do I want to do? Who do I want to connect with? How will I take care of myself?”
For other people, they use the car ride just to be completely present on just driving in silence, and that helps them kind of wind down and transition. So you might even think about ways you might compartmentalize work. Work, leaving work at work. So boundaries are really important.
Another thing I would have you consider or think about, is being intentional about charging your battery. So if we think about our phone, some of us maybe fall in this trap, but we don’t want to wait for our phone to be completely dead before we charge it. When this happens, it takes our phone a lot longer to charge and our phone is never available then, when we need it the most. All of a sudden, we need our phone immediately and it’s dead. And so we want to be proactive in staying ahead of the game when it comes to charging ourselves, fueling ourselves.
So think about you and think about what gives you energy, what fuels your soul. And again, this is going to look so different for everybody. For some people it is reading a book, for some people it is doing yoga, or going for a walk. Others, it’s connecting with friends or family. For some people, it’s just sitting and having a cup of coffee in silence. So maybe start generating a list of what fuels you, thinking about including things that are long activities that might take up more time, but also be intentional about including the smaller, simple, less time commitment activities. And think about how you can sprinkle those activities throughout your day. In the morning, at work, and after work. Because we’re constantly recharging, and if we’re doing this, we’re going to be better equipped to manage the stressors of work and tolerate that stress, so it doesn’t pull us back, doesn’t get us down.
And then the last thing I will suggest about how do we work through this, is having an outlet. We have to have someone to talk about this stuff with. Talk about our stress, talk about what’s frustrating us at work, what the boss did to us that day. And I would highly recommend that that person is not someone at work, just so that that doesn’t follow you into work and create more stress for yourself. So maybe it’s a friend or family member, or even your therapist.
[Tina] Okay, thank you. I think that’s such an important thing and one thing that came to mind, you said about the car is the transition time. Would it be beneficial, you said about using potentially the first half to reflect… What if someone called someone during that time to share about that. Does that count or should it always be personal?
[Marissa] If that for you is what’s helpful, is using your car ride to kind of vent and get it out of your system, that could be a great idea.
[Tina] Okay, thank you.
check it out
Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.
Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround yourself with a community of others who are going through it too.
THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.
Go to athleticgreens.com/reds to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!
When you go to https://tracksmith.com/tina and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.
more about Marissa:
Marissa Norman, Psy.D, CMPC, is a Sport Psychologist in the New Jersey area. She has her own private telehealth practice, and works with youth to professional athletes from mental skills training to mental health services. She’s a former college track and field pentathlete who loves to laugh, to eat, and adventure. You can find Marissa at https://www.topformpsychology.com/team-sport-psychology.