A marathon is 26.2 miles. The global average completion time is approximately 4½ hours. One foot in front of the other, over and over, is demanding both physically and mentally.

In 2019, a woman named Hayley Carruthers collapsed steps away from the finish line due to the physical and mental demands of the London Marathon.

Afterward, in an interview with Radio 1 Newsbeat, she said, “You learn more from the races that don’t go as well as you’d hoped. To cross that finish line is a challenge, but it is doable. Now I’m going to allow my body time to adapt and go back into training to make sure I don’t push too hard again too soon.”

For many people, every day can feel like a marathon, but without crowds cheering along the way or the potential for medals at the finish line. But what if the day was viewed as a series of sprints instead of one long marathon?

Sprinters stay in their lane and exert their talents and energy at top speed for brief periods of time. Then, they rest and recover, make adaptations and run again. Often, after this period of rest, recovery and adaptation, they reach higher levels of ability.

What if this approach was applied to daily life? Harvard University studied athletes and found that we can apply the insights learned in sports to daily life.

It is natural to think that stress is to blame for the ‘marathon mentality,’ but in fact, the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. The problem is that people go and go and go without shifting between energy expenditure and recovery.  The problem isn’t stress; it is the linearity of the day-to-day.

When stress becomes chronic, the body’s responses can cause wear and tear, and emotional and behavioral symptoms can develop. The key is shifting between expending energy and recovery.

Here Are Some Tips That Can Help:

  • Embrace a growth mindset – Believing that basic abilities and skills can be developed through dedication and hard work is an essential first step. Without a growth mindset, extra effort is not exerted, and nothing changes.
  • Know the race for the day – Think about what might require short bursts of energy and slow, steady, longer-term energy uses.
  • Prioritize energy management
    • Be strategic about scheduling breaks.
    • Set boundaries for self and others.
    • Pepper in some positivity.
    • Learn from the past and what has worked during previous times of stress.
  • Remembering to breathe intentionally helps the human mind and body stay calm and focused.
    • Practice a technique called Box Breathing: Picture a box with equal sides:
      • Breathe in for 4 seconds and visualize traveling up the left side of the square.
      • Next, hold your breath for 4 seconds as you travel across the top of the square.
      • Breathe out for 4 seconds as you move down the right side of the square.
      • Lastly, travel across the bottom of the box while holding your breath.
    • Repeat as many times as needed to reach a state of calm.
  • Mentally reset – Being aware of one’s surroundings can sharpen focus. A change of scenery or a walk outside, noticing the breeze, the warmth of the sun or the birds’ chirping helps increase mental clarity and calmness.
  • Get physical – Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. Set phone reminders to get up and move throughout the day. Drink a lot of water and consider food fuel to keep the body energized.
  • Make gratitude a habit – William Arthur Ward, an American author, said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” Write down three things that make you grateful daily, weekly or monthly. It will bring a smile to your face.
  • Choose kindness and pay it forward – Text, email or call someone with a genuine compliment or expression of thanks.
  • Give back – Look beyond your own circumstances and do something helpful or positive for someone else. It does your
    body good.

Resilience at its core is adapting, recovering and growing during stress. The good news is that it is a skill that can be acquired by being intentional.