We all face injury and illness from time to time. Over coming the mental hurdles that come along with these conditions can be harder than the physical ones. Here are my tips for overcoming injury.
Allow yourself time to be sad about being injured. It sucks, but you have to deal with it. Don’t dwell too long, but it’s OK to be down a bit. Then as soon as you can get moving again with the understanding everything will be much harder and take so much longer, but you will be happy with your small victories, even if it’s just doing laundry or making yourself a snack.
Remember what you love to do besides train/exercise. Injury does not define who you are, nor does whatever sport you play or activity you do. You like/do other things, you just need to remember what they are. Reading, crafting, healthy cooking, you name it, dive in!
Accept help. In the beginning it will be hard to adapt, but you will. It is tremendously helpful to have someone who can help you until you figure it out. My mother-in law came out and was so helpful when I broke my leg. When she got there I felt helpless, by the time she left, I felt like a superwoman ready to take on almost anything with my one legged self.
Figure out what you can do and get good at it. My first obstacle was learning to use my crutches. By the end of six weeks I was crutching like a (lady)boss. I began to find another blessing within my injury: my upper body strength and training went to new levels. I learned to hop on one leg and crawl, pull myself up, and so many other movements got so much better. Now, post recovery, I work diligently to keep the new skills I learned while injured.
Do your Physical Therapy, and listen to your doctor. I, admittedly, only went to PT once. But when I did, I did so with the intention of picking my PT’s brain so I could go home and do it, for real. She showed me how to work on my deficits, got me over the mental barrier of high impact and back to running. She also showed me how to test my injury to make sure I was progressing in my workouts back to full strength and balance. If you don’t have a gym, like I do, and a strong knowledge the body and strength and conditioning, I would recommend going to all your sessions and doing everything they tell you to do diligently. I asked a lot of questions of my doctor, and I took well researched advice from professionals I know and respect about exercise and supplements to hasten my recovery. I pushed my limits safely and I always made sure it was OK with my doc. His answer was typically pleasing,”As long as you are not bearing weight on the broken bone….go for it.” Know the difference between pain, and hard…pain is never OK.
Practice gratitude. Be thankful for all that you are, have and can do. Life and mobility are a blessing. When you start to look around at all the things you can be grateful for when you are injured or down, when you recover the world looks just that much more fantastic. Get up everyday and think how amazing it is that you can walk, run, skate, jump, move, breathe. Never take those things for granted.
Stay Connected. So what, you can’t participate like you used to. Go anyway, cheer on your teammates or training-mates, stay connected with your coach. Volunteer for activities you can do, like keeping score, or sign folks in. Go to the gym at your regular time and stretch or do self care or low impact. Staying around the things and people you love will keep your spirits up, and you may even find something else you are good at.
Set a Goal and commit to it. If your injury is one you will fully recover from, set a goal to do something you always wanted to do or did before your injury. Having a goal like that can often really put things into perspective, and force you to forge ahead even on your most down days. Make is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Specific) and you will be on your way to being more awesome than before in no time.
Don’t give up. Injury is rarely a career ender. Especially if you are new to a sport, activity or exercising, don’t just throw in the towel. If you loved it, and you were challenging yourself, that is how you get better. Failure truly is the precursor to success, so as Dory says, “just keep swimming!”