Laura Hämäläinen on optimal recovery, your daily rhythm and reducing stress (2/2)

Interview with entrepreneur, coach & horse owner Laura Hämäläinen, part two!

This time the topic is recovery, in which healthy eating habits (read our previous post about the topic) play a hugely important role.

You’re an entrepreneur who has built a couple of different brands. Running the business involves different tasks and changing schedules with stressful, sometimes long work days. How do you maintain optimal recovery?

“One of the first things for me is sleep, but moreover, it’s about a certain balance and daily rhythm in life. How does that look like in everyday life? Workout and rest time are in balance, as are work and leisure. At the same time, there is enough time to take things forward, but also to be still and just be. I try to value balance in everything – for example, I maintain a healthy diet, but I can also get myself a semla bun if I feel like it. (laughs)

Although I think life is such a wave movement, I try to balance the things I can control. The aim is not to get too caught up in any small nuances, but to think about the whole – to have a suitable meal rhythm, sleep rhythm and work and leisure rhythm. Especially as an entrepreneur, it is important to be able to draw boundaries, say no, and stick to the rhythm of the day. And I think all these affect our hormonal balance as well. In a way, if there is one important thing, then one needs to think about what acts as a counterweight to it. If I have a big thing in my life, its counterweight must also be heavy enough to make me have a break from it – for example in my crossfit athlete years, to dedicate enough time for rest and recovery. I think it’s really important. And as mentioned, I’m super strict with sleep – more than just as “sleep is important,” but rather understanding that sleep itself is affected by so many things which too has an effect on many other things.

I’d say that a person should look at their life as a whole and think about what are the important and big things for you and what counterbalances them. If all the focus is on separate actions – like that one “perfect” recovery routine, taking magnesium at the right time and so on – I think it leads nowhere. It seems that nowadays you are somehow forced to “perform” in everything all the time, to develop yourself. Been there, done that - yet recovery is part of the rhythm of life and should not be performed.”

What do you prioritize in your own recovery?

“Personally, I need a lot of grounding, casual stuff. For example, on Christmas break, I spent a lot of time just listening to Harry Potter audiobooks.

What’s something you think people should pay more attention to, regarding recovery?

“It’s important to identify who you are and what’s important to you. For some, it can be being with friends, for some, being alone in doing something non-performing, casual and relaxing. It’s important to recognize your own type and what kind of things burden or restore you – which can be something completely different compared to your best friend. If you see one thing working for someone that doesn’t mean the same thing would work for you. You need to be able to stop and think for yourself. Workload and recovery depend so much on what kind of person you are.”

How about sleep? What’s your take on that?

“My goal is to maintain a rhythm to wake up and go to bed at about the same time, whether it’s a weekday or the weekend. In addition, I try to get enough (preferably) natural light before 10:00 in the morning. It’s known to have a great effect on the so-called sleep hormones (melatonin and serotonin). I’ve tried to incorporate this into my own life only since last year. In addition, I have a rule that I need to stop any active (work-related) tasks at 6 PM the latest. Instead I might watch a movie or some series with Nikke [partner], or call or text with friends.

For dinner, I make sure I eat good, slow-absorbing carbs and good-quality fats that equalize blood sugar, like oat bread, to keep my blood sugar levels stable throughout the night. So a good evening meal, which I then support with magnesium.

Most important, though, is probably the rhythm so that I can unplug in the evenings. I personally don’t think that any super strict or structured routines really work for me. Sometimes my evenings may include stretching, sometimes it’s reading and learning something horse-related or something else relaxing.”

Your tips on balanced work & leisure rhythm and recovery as an entrepreneur?

“I  try to be really strict on not working on the weekends, but at the same time I’m really bad at it. (laughs) That’s my focus this year, although of course sometimes I have to be flexible, if  we are filming for my brand during the week for example. I don’t want to set myself up to “failure” by scheduling work stuff over free time.

Another important thing is that I stick to agreed holidays and day-offs. My company doesn’t fall if I take a moment off. In addition, like in training, I tend to have so-called deload weeks every four weeks in my everyday life as well, allowing the body and mind to rest more. My goal is to work so that it allows me a lot of free time. And when that happens, I don’t want to use my time for any stupid stuff.

At work, I automate everything I can. For example, I’ve learned a lot about managing email and coaching platforms and developing communications, and I’ve created systems to not be flooded with email all the time.”

Tips for reducing stress?

“It depends a little on my mood, but here’s some things that work for me:

  • Sweating, it's always good. And that doesn’t have to mean a killer workout – even a little sweat takes out a lot of the stress.
  • I love going to the sauna, and if there’s a chance to get a dip in the water, even better!
  • Spending time with animals. You must be present at the moment which reduces a lot of stress.
  • Music. I’ve created myself a good mood playlist. Sometimes, for example after a miserable night, I may throw my legs on the couch, put the music on, and try to breathe and calm down.
  • All things related to nature really work for me...
  • ... or I even watch Harry Potter or listen to them as audiobooks. :-D If I watch a series, it has to be something I can get immersed in and far from my own world.
  • Being with friends can also work for some to reduce stress. Taking me-time works for me better.”

Thank you, Laura, for a nice chat and tips! You can follow her journey and work from her social platform at @laurahoooo.

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