I’m dedicating this piece to everyone in a slacker slump. This of you gazing slack jawed at a screen whilst the knowledge that you ‘should’ be doing something constructive buzzes around your head like a particularly annoying fly. A fly you can’t be arsed to swat. Because there are times, for all bar the most monastically disciplined, that ‘it’ gets too much.
Recovery is always going to feel slow and occasionally painful. Progress in recovery, just like progress in performance, is never delivered in a straight line. The point of adopting good practices is to make the line as straight as possible whilst maintaining emotional stability, discipline and resolve in the context of gradual, overall improvement.
So why is it that one day, about six weeks after my injury I woke up and lost my mojo? For all intents and purposes everything was heading in the right direction. As well as adopting and applying the wisdom of Petr Cech I was actually enjoying my new found purpose and being more productive on a work front than I thought possible. All things considered rehab couldn’t have gone better. Then I hit a wall. Not in a ‘car-hits-brick wall’ type of way, more a ‘Homer Simpson runs into a giant marshmallow-wall’, kind of way.
I was listless, unmotivated. Where a few days previously I was focusing on everything I could do and relishing the minor improvements in my physical self all I could now do was dwell on the things I couldn’t do, whilst not being bothered to pursue the things I was able to. I allowed this general malaise to continue for several days.
Although I didn’t want to write a piece for the magazine, I had no choice and in my preparation I reviewed a couple of the Boot Camp blog pieces. The good thing about writing for a living, is that you get to have conversations with your previous self. Everything I was advising people to do I was avoiding, whilst doing everything I should avoid. It’s a strange lesson that’s given to yourself, by yourself. So I took stock. Why was I feeling so bleurgh? Why couldn’t I be arsed?
Turns out the answer was crushingly simple.
I didn’t really ‘just’ wake up one morning and give up the ghost. It was the culmination of slowly introducing bad habits into my routine on the justification that everything else was going so well. I was sleeping in the spare room, due to wearing the surgical boot, so I’d got into the habit of watching box sets before going to sleep. And the nature of a good box set is that they should probably be ranked as Class A drugs given their addictive nature. Little by little I’d been nudging the needle to the point that ‘5 more minutes’ had become ‘one more episode’. The net result? One of the biggest threats to wellbeing known to human kind: sleep deprivation.
As soon as I realised what was happening, the MacBook was left downstairs at bedtime and after a few days of enhanced sleep, equilibrium returned, mood and motivation improved and I was back to what passes for ‘normal’.
After sharing my experiences with a few people it seems that ‘can’t be arsed syndrome’ is a common malaise in the rehabilitation and recovery cycle. So, before you allow yourself to float your boat of self-pity on a tide of self-recrimination, perform a little self audit. It’s highly unlikely your motivation and mood has slipped for no reason. Examine what you’ve been doing.
Are you continuing to push the boundaries of what you can do or have you plateaued?
Has your sleep pattern changed? Are you getting enough? Are you continuing to push the boundaries of what you can do or have you plateaued? What’s changed in your diet? Are you controlling what you can and are your controlling those things with your wellbeing in mind?
Once you’ve identified the reason you automatically create fresh purpose: address that which is pulling you down.
And if you can’t identify what it is, sometimes, just sometimes you have a bad day and you have to roll with it. Put it in context. One Swallow does not a summer make any more than one bad day means your rehab is in trouble. Just don’t reach too quickly for the box sets.
This is part of a series
This article is from the Performance Life channel.