When are your Wimbledons? 

‘When are YOUR Wimbledons’ may sound abstract, so let me explain. These days, many of us think we need to be ‘on’ all the time or have the expectation that we need to be firing on all cylinders all day, every day. We’ve very demanding jobs, we often have a busy home life, but we still want the energy to do things that we find fulfilling. This is precisely why I think we would benefit from learning from athletes, emulating their practice within the context of business and daily life, and learning to manage stress in the same way they do. 

The myths around stress 

It’s possible that stress has an image problem. We tend to think of stress as a negative thing – it leaves us feeling tired, under pressure and irritable. Here’s a new way to look at stress; it isn’t a bad thing, and in fact very often it can be a good thing. Exercise is a form of stress, but provided we get adequate rest and recovery, we get the physiological adaptations we are working towards. It’s when stress becomes prolonged and elevated that it becomes problematic. 

Serena Williams 

We all know Serena’s hugely successful, but even at her elite level, she won’t be Grand Slam (i.e. Wimbledon) fit throughout her year. Williams will be anticipating and gearing up for the big events, de-loading and recovering after each big event. She’ll be looking at all aspects of her health, her sleep, mental health, energy levels etc as well as what she does for recovery. Williams will be managing her stress levels with a daily recovery practice, but also anticipating when the peak events are and adjusting her schedule accordingly. 

I believe we as business athletes need to do the same. 

What does this mean for us? 

We can learn a lot from Williams in terms of managing our stress and recovery. During the day, we should schedule in little slivers of recovery; that could be a short, brisk walk; a minute of deep breathing; 2 minutes spent daydreaming out the window. Prior to weekends, pay attention to the schedule and ensure there isn’t too much to do. I recommend keeping one day for spontaneous activities or a day at home chilling out. 

In the medium term, it’s all about anticipating what’s coming up. What are the big events in your life that you need to get ready for? They may be work-related (end of quarter results, an event and so on), or personally driven. By anticipating when these events take place you can plan for them and ensure that you’re ready. 

What to focus on 

Prior to, and after key events, or even after a busy day, your mind and body will need to recover. Take some time to schedule activities like sleep, eating well, meditation or activities that are meditative such as walking or exercising in a restorative way i.e. yoga. Predicting big events will mean we can make time for recovery.