From Recovery to Regulation: An Attempt to Reconceptualize 'Recovery from Work'

F.R.H. Zijlstra*, M Cropley, L.W. Rydstedt

*Corresponding author for this work

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The concept of recovery' (from work) has quickly gained in importance in the occupational health literature. However, we think that the conceptualization of recovery' needs some more attention. Although many authors acknowledge that recovery' refers to a process', the concept is often treated as a static construct. In this paper, we argue that recovery should be conceptualized as a dynamic construct related to changes in psychophysiological state of the person. We refer to two main theories that have provided a theoretical framework for research in this area: Meijman & Mulder's Effort-Recovery (E-R) model and Hobfoll's Conservation of Resources theory. In particular, the E-R model has been seminal in this area and stresses the element of changing psychophysiological states that has been used for reconceptualising recovery'. Various biological rhythms influence these changing psychophysiological states, and thus the level of energy (or effort) a person can mobilize or wants to mobilize. A distinction is made between physical fatigue' and mental fatigue' and its consequences for recovery. The discrepancy between actual state' and required state' has been suggested as the basis for recovery'. This emphasises that recovery is a dynamic and ongoing process, which also included motivational aspects, in particular as far as mental work is concerned. The capacity to maintain self-regulation of one's psychophysiological state is important in this respect. Thus, we propose that recovery' is the continuous process of harmonizing the actual state' with the state that is required' at that moment. Copyright (c) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-252
Number of pages9
JournalStress and Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • LOAD
  • definition
  • effort
  • energy
  • recovery
  • self-regualtion

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