A lot of athletes have the misconception that their self-care quota gets met through any/all of their physical recovery routines. I often find myself talking about how this is not the case and how, if athletes don’t pay attention to their needs aside from the ones met in physical recovery, they put themselves at risk of burnout. Here’s why:
Although physical recovery is a form of taking care of yourself and your body as an athlete, it has a specific motivation behind it; you do it because it will ultimately help you perform better.
There is an ulterior motive, which means that you’re not doing it just for yourself because you’re also doing it for your team, your teammates, and your goals. In a sense, recovery is a part of your job as an athlete.
Self-care is entirely different. I explain it as something that you do just for you—for your needs and your needs only. With this in mind, self-care can have absolutely nothing to do with your sport.
Self-care is recovery for the brain; it helps recharge your overall perspective and mindset. Self-care can look like scheduling out time to go to the movies with friends instead of going to the gym for a workout on a day where you feel like you need a break. Self-care can look like journaling in the morning when you’re feeling stressed or taking a nap during the day after a poor night’s sleep.
Recovery is when you’re doing something in addition to everything else you’re doing so that you can achieve a better outcome. Self-care has no ulterior motive…it’s done purely for you with the only driver being the need to get your mental and emotional needs met.