Sciency Words: Recovery Experience

Sciency Words BIO copy

Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:


You’re feeling stressed. Weary. Burned out. You have too much work piled on top of you.

It might be tempting, whenever you can take a break, to just stop and do nothing. Nothing at all. You only have so much energy. You feel like your mental resources are running low. It makes sense to try to conserve what little you have left, but is that really your best option?

Have a Recovery Experience Instead

Some psychologists recommend that when you feel like your mental resources are running low, don’t just shut down. Don’t try to conserve what’s left.

Instead, do something fun. Even better, do something creative. Like coloring. Or writing poetry. Or playing with Legos (my new favorite). Even something like redecorating your workspace can engage your creative mind.

This is called a recovery experience, because rather than trying to conserve your mental resources by doing nothing, you recover your resources by being creative.

My Experience with Recovery Experiences

I first encountered this term over a year ago. I was writing a blog post about the whole adult coloring book trend and the science allegedly behind it.

As a workaholic (or perhaps I should call myself a write-aholic), I often feel guilty about doing anything other than writing. Having a sciency word like “recovery experience” has helped me get past my guilt.

  • I’m not wasting time playing video games; I’m having a recovery experience.
  • I’m not wasting time building Lego models; this is a recovery experience.
  • I’m not wasting time antiquing; I’m enjoying a recovery… no, actually this isn’t fun for me. This is wasting my time.

Typically, recovery experiences leave me feeling energized and ready for more writing.

And this summer, I’m planning a nice, long recovery experience, with no writing on the agenda at all. This despite the fact that I have a huge writing project to worry about. This despite the fact that I’m getting super stressed about said project and about writing in general (in fact, that’s the very reason I need a recovery experience so badly right now).

Basically, today’s post is a roundabout way of saying I’m going on vacation. I’ll be back in two or three weeks.

7 thoughts on “Sciency Words: Recovery Experience

  1. Hmmm…. It sounds like my kids have been performing “recovery experience” for a while now. Unfortunately, the energy they gain by this is expended on more “recovery experience.”

    Liked by 1 person

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