If you watched our college soccer players conditioning sessions this summer you would have noticed that the session didn’t end when they were done running. You would have seen the players take a few moments to catch their breath and then begin their slow walk halfway down field and back. Then the shoes come off followed by long slow fascial stretching movements and a few minutes of breath work.
We were completing the stress cycle and creating a transition to recovery. We often think that the recovery part takes care of itself as soon as the stress is over but if you’re going from a morning workout to a class to a summer job the stress may never really be over. It’s like racing down the freeway hoping you’ll find a quick chance to fill up before you run out gas. Instead, we build an off-ramp and come to a temporary stop. It’s hard to fill your tank while you’re moving.
Many of us are living with a lot of stress right now and it doesn’t stop when the stressor is gone. For some of us the stressors are never gone they just rotate in and out.
The advantage the players have is being part of a cohort, a culture that values the off ramp, where people are encouraged and expected to take it, where it’s the natural thing to do. We don’t want you running out of gas because we care about you and we want you to be your best.
What would it look like to build off-ramps for the people we live with or serve and create a culture where they felt encouraged and were supported to take them? What would it look like to make taking the off ramp as important as going fast?