No matter how big or small an injury is, there is the unknown fear of how it will impact your future activity levels. One of the areas that is poorly focused on in your rehab is the psychological side of your injury. Looking after your mental health and staying positive throughout your injury recovery is a necessity. Without this, there is always the doubt that the injury can come back or limit your return to activity. In this post we are going to outline several tips to help you stay positive during your recovery.
Reframe, Refocus, Rise
With an injury, whether during the season or off-season can be detrimental mentally. There is often a sense of feeling lost or no purpose. The secret though, your identity extends beyond your physical capabilities. Our activity doesn’t define who we are as a person. The Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology reported that Athletes who view their injury as temporary setback, not that of a permanent loss, had a higher rate of successful recovery from injury.
So, are you able to reframe your injury into a positive? I can hear you now, how can an injury be a positive. Well the simple answer is this, it allows us a chance to re-evaluate what we are doing. More so, you are able to refocus back on aspects you enjoy in your life that often get put to the back of the list when actively training.
Remember this, an injured you is just a temporary version of you! It is not set in stone!
Celebrating the Small Victories For Your Mental Health
Recovering from an injury isn’t always a quick and straightforward process. There can often be setbacks during your rehabilitation process. Remembering that your recovery is a marathon not a spring is key. But marathons are much longer than a sprint, so how can we stay motivated during this?
Firstly, celebrate the small victories. Whether that is a slight increase in your range of motion, reduced swelling or you are now able to walk with one crutch. Celebrating these can motivate you to keep going with your rehab, and maintain your happiness whilst boosting your mental health!
A 2022 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that focusing on small goals and celebrating their achievement significantly improved adherence to rehabilitation programs and boosted motivation.
Set yourself SMART Goals, reward yourself when you achieve them and lastly, keep going the end is in sight!
Finding your Voice – The Key for Mental Health
Injuries can be a daunting part of sport and exercise. Being injured tends to lead to isolation from the rest of the team or having to do a specific program that means you can’t train with your gym partners. Finding ways to avoid the isolation doesn’t fall solely on you though! Coaches and wider staff members should be making sure you still feel involved where possible. This can be done in several ways. Firstly, when you are able to complete specific drills, you should be involved with the rest of the team. Secondly, help out with coaching and other general tasks the coaching staff do. Finally, be involved with social events! These can really help you to feel included!
Alternatively, talk to loved ones, friends, team-mates. Let them know your struggles, celebrate your victories with them and celebrate theirs.
Embrace the Power of Pause
We all can get too invested in our sports and exercise that we ignore what our bodies are telling us. Far too often we see people that have put off their injury as small and something that can be pushed through. Which has led to longer time off. Having a more significant injury can give us that moment of pause, allow us to listen to our bodies and reconnect with our bodies. During this period of pause and reflection, why not try yoga or meditation?
Remember injuries are not the end of the road, there are merely a detour to your destination. How we come back from the injury shows far more about our character, resilience and strength. Embrace your injury journey, celebrate your wins, reach out to others and take a moment to re-evaluate your own personal goals. Come back to your activity stronger physically and mentally!