Tools to manage mental and physical fatigue

February 25, 2021 Providence News Team


How to take the same tactics we use for exercise and physical training and apply them to our own mindset

By Kikkan Randall, OLY
Olympic champion 

I think we’re all feeling the weight on our shoulders these days. So many changes, so much unpredictability and so much to manage … all adding up to a very real mental and physical fatigue. As we navigate these strange times, I find myself reflexively going back to many of the tools and training methods I used with my physical training as an Olympic athlete to get through each day.

1) Break it down Thinking about the long road ahead as one massive intimidating mass can feel hopeless and overwhelming. Deciding to break it down into smaller steps and get through one day at a time can be helpful. With training, putting the work in every day is how I progressed.  It’s small changes over time. When those overwhelming feelings of crop up, take one big deep breath and say “TODAY” out loud! Remind yourself to just think about what you need to do today to get to tomorrow.  

2) Take a moment to celebrate the small wins — The Olympics only came around every four years. If I only counted successes on the Olympics results page, I’m not sure I would have been able to keep my motivation strong for as long as I did. We so often focus on the big things we want to achieve or on the things we’re not doing well. Making the commitment to stop every day and take a quick inventory of the things that DID go well, the small wins, can help you find progress and motivation in the midst of a long and challenging situation.

3) SLEEP!  With so much to manage right now, sleep is often the first thing that gets compromised in our daily routines. Making the commitment to get even another 30 minutes per night can make a big difference. I’ve found prioritizing sleep over finishing a couple more emails, or doing a few more dishes, makes my next day more productive and I can stay more mentally positive!

4) Build a rest day into your schedule Maybe you can’t get away with a full “day” right now but scheduling a few hours to take a complete break for yourself will pay big dividends! It’s important to give yourself the freedom to just quiet the mind, do something for yourself and reset your body and brain. Planning it ahead of time can help make it a priority!

5) Put on your power suit! — I always raced my best when I dressed up in my race suit and felt pride in how I looked the part of what I was trying to accomplish. I’m not necessarily saying you have to walk around in spandex like I did, but I think we all have those items of clothing that just make us feel good when we put them on. Finding a colorful headband or digging out that ol’ college sweatshirt, there are items of clothing that connect us to positive memories or associations that give us power to tap into. I’ve always felt if you feel good in what you’re wearing, you are more likely to enjoy what you’re doing and perform well.

While there is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, harnessing the things you can control right now and doing the small things that help you stabilize and improve everyday may end up unlocking a better you BECAUSE of this challenge!

When that weight comes off your shoulders, you’ll be floating!


About the Author

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