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Active Recovery At Work

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

If you’re into fitness you’ve most likely heard the term ‘active recovery’. Active recovery is a form of low intensity exercise, such as walking or gentle cycling, that is completed after high intensity workouts. The main purpose of this is to gently keep the muscles active to help prevent long term muscle fatigue. On the other hand you may prefer to opt for passive recovery, which essentially is a rest day doing just that, spending the day relaxing after completing a killer workout the day before. When we physically perform exercise we tend to listen to our bodies needs and recover as needed. But do we listen to our mind in the same way when going through a stressful period at work?

Why adopt active recovery methods at work?

If we physically participated in high intensity exercise daily our bodies would need to recover from the activities performed, but when going through a particularly challenging period at work how do we typically recover? Very Well Mind explain that “Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability.” In other words, when we go through particularly stressful periods at work, we may end up with burnout. To avoid ‘hitting the wall’, we can take small steps to actively recover at work, allowing our minds to continue to tick without becoming completely overwhelmed. We know that nurturing our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health, so what can we do to actively recover at work?

Walk and Talk

Whether you’re fortunate enough to be able to physically meet with clients or colleagues, or you're mainly communicating over the phone, adopting a walk and talk meeting is a great way to actively recover at work. Not only is the fresh air good for us, but so too is spending time away from our desks during our working day. 'Walking away' from the clutter of office life, or the sound of pinging emails is a really great way of recuperating.

Get away from the screen

Working from home has become the new norm, but for many this change has resulted in an increase in 'screen time'. Why not take a break from technology for a bit? Whether it's your laptop, computer or mobile phone you're replacing, why not step away and simply get creative with a pen and paper instead! It's a great way of actively recovering from the motions of the general day to day working life while still being productive. Another great way of utilising screen free time is by talking to someone about how your day is going, which can help you to reflect upon (and recognise) what you have achieved. It is also a great opportunity to spark, and generate, new ideas.

Take a Break

We’re all entitled to take regular breaks at work yet so many of us chose to work through. Total Jobs reported that 68% of workers never take their lunch break saying they have too much to do, and a third of employees report never leave their desks once they arrive at work. We would never put our bodies through physical exercise for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week so why would we challenge our minds to do so? Taking regular breaks is essential to actively recover during the working day. When we take a break at work we not only recharge from the tasks already performed but allow for our mental state to replenish to improve our performance throughout the rest of the day.

The Takeaway…

We’re not superhuman, we all need time to recover. Rather than taking recovery time when it’s too late (i.e. when you’ve had to call in sick because you’re burnt out) why not try some of our simple tips to help you regularly 'actively recover' at work. For interesting resources on staying mindful at work, active recovery and more visit our Help from HoB resource centre. Or contact us on

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