There was no rugby over the weekend as the 6 Nations athletes rested and recovered. So far the performance of our players has been outstanding with England Captain Chris Robshaw topping the tackle count again at the 6 Nations victorious rugby match against Italy, amid increasing speculation that he will lead the team into the World Cup this autumn.
I wonder what the players did this weekend. I remember once reading about a famous Tour de France champion who between races and training did nothing but rest. In fact, he even had a lift installed in his house so he didn't have to use the stairs. While this 'champion' has since fallen from grace, there is still much to be learnt from his and our rugby players approach to rest and recovery.
In today's technologically driven and achievement-focused world, we find it so hard to get off the treadmill. Years ago I worked in the civil service for the Medical Research Council and the structure of my day was such that intermittent rest was automatically built into my timetable; I didn't work until I arrived at work, had a coffee break in the morning, a one hour lunch break and a tea break in the afternoon. I left at the end of the day and didn't work again until 9am the next day. I'm not saying that I'd want it to be like that again but we do need to find a balance somehow - as technology continues to advance, the demand is only going to become more relentless.
I'm witnessing this in my clinic and in my corporate workshops as I see not only more stress, sleep problems, chronic and adrenal fatigue and burnout but also loss of drive, creativity, fun and love of work.
And yes I did say love of work. Because I believe that when we are energised, rested and well-fed in mind, body and spirit, we stand a fighting chance of being fully engaged and loving what we do.
So what can we learn from those who are at the very top of their game?
Well we can start by learning how to oscillate - this means moving rhythmically between putting energy out and drawing energy back in and allowing recovery.
This means coming to work and, every now and then, doing nothing. Your energy runs roughly on a ninety minute cycle called the Ultradian Cycle - this is the natural 'hum' of your energy. Stop every ninety minutes or so, take a break, eat something nourishing, drink something replenishing, move, look at a picture of someone you love, breathe mindfully, pray, nap, get out of your head and back into your body, remind yourself that you're a human being and not a human doing.
Doing 'nothing' allows the body to equilibrate and rebalance. The working memory of the brain empties and reorganises allowing more space for mental engagement and creativity and at the end of the day, sleep is deeper, purer and less 'tired but wired'.