Your body can stand almost anything, it’s your mind you have to convince.
Dealing with an injury can go beyond just the physical components of healing. It can require a great mental journey to fully heal as well.
Think about if you stub your toe getting into bed. The next few times you’re in a similar scenario, your awareness will be heightened and you’ll be extra careful to not hurt yourself again. And then eventually that will fade and you’ll go back to moving through the motions without thinking about it.
That’s just a minor example, but it illustrates the mental journey of an injury.
If you suffer a serious injury, the mental impact can be very difficult to manage and overcome.
A few years ago, I suffered a back injury that really affected me mentally.
I had been playing volleyball for almost my entire life – I would even go so far as to say that it was my life. I played year-round almost every day.
Volleyball was where I made friends, felt a sense of achievement, and found passion. However, it also led to my life-changing back injury.
During my senior year of high school, right before I was supposed to start my last volleyball season, I started to experience some back pain.
At first, I thought with a little bit of rest and relaxation, everything would start to feel better. But then days and weeks started to pass, and I wasn’t feeling any better. It was time to go to a doctor.
After an initial exam and x-rays, the doctor determined that one of my vertebrae had shifted forwards. In order to make a final diagnosis though, they needed to do an MRI.
I had to wait a few days for my MRI results, which felt like years. Meanwhile, I was still attending volleyball practice and games, cheering my teammates on from the bench just hoping to get some positive test results.
And then doctor called and said I would likely never be able to play volleyball again.
The days following were difficult. I was dealing with constant physical pain which in itself was challenging, but it was mentally difficult as well.
I had to ask myself questions like “What are my hobbies or passions if I can’t play sports?” And I had to deal with the mental frustrations of wanting to do things that my body just was not ready for. Exercising, sitting or standing for long periods of time, even going to an amusement park with friends…everything suddenly felt restricted.
But then slowly, through treatments like physical therapy I started to recover. It took a while, probably close to a year, before I could fully live my life without constantly dealing with pain or being mindful of my injury.
And now, seven years later, I have actually been able to recover to the point that I am able to exercise, play sports, etc. as long as I take care of myself when I do so.
All of that goes to say, if you are dealing with an injury and feeling the mental impact of that physical pain, I completely understand and you are not alone. And I want to pass along some tips on how to mentally recover from a physical injury that I found crucial to helping me heal along my own personal journey.
Here are six life changing tips to mentally recover from a physical injury:
1. Accept what happened
The first step to mentally recovering from a physical injury is accepting what happened. Come to terms with your injury and diagnosis.
Injuries stem from stress on your body, often through the result of an accident. Whether you feel at fault or feel the blame is on others, you’ll need to find forgiveness in order to mentally heal from the experience.
Finding acceptance is important before moving through the rest of these steps.
2. Learn about your injury
The next step is to learn about your diagnosis. The more you know, the more you can mentally prepare for the recovery ahead.
Understand things like how long you should expect recovery to take or what’s involved in the recovery such as medication, physical therapy, rest, etc. By knowing the details of your injury and the expected recovery, you’ll be able to plan and set yourself up for success.
Planning will put your mind at ease and help you feel prepared to take on the journey ahead of you.
3. Commit to your treatment
Another important factor in mentally healing from a physical injury is to commit to your treatment. If you got injured from a sport or hobby, it can feel devastating that you aren’t able to train for that activity any more.
Replace that feeling of a void in your life by regarding your treatment like training. Set goals for recovery and take your treatment seriously.
It will help ease your mind by focusing on the actions of recovery.
4. Don’t push yourself too fast too soon
While goal setting and committing to your treatment is important, it’s also critical to be conscious of not pushing yourself too fast too soon. Once you start to see the progress, it can be tempting to rush towards that finish line. But it’s important to remain on course and not push yourself too quickly.
Pushing yourself before your body is ready can lead to you injuring yourself even more. It will also be even more mentally frustrating if you try too much too soon and then feel let down when you don’t find success.
The best thing you can do both for your physical and mental health during an injury recovery is to stick to your treatment plan. Take things one step at a time and ease your way towards healing.
5. Find passions and hobbies that fit your new lifestyle
If you are injured, you’ll likely be unable to participate in the typical hobbies and activities that you used to fill your daily life with. It will feel sad, frustrating, maybe even cause you to have some anger about it.
All of that is okay – and understandable! However, a great way to combat this is to find new passions and hobbies that fit the new lifestyle and restrictions that are impacting you right now.
For example, I always enjoyed reading and writing, but volleyball took a lot of my time so those hobbies fell off my radar. And then, once I was injured and could no longer find fun and enjoyment through sports, I reconnected with my passion for reading and writing.
Having a passion or hobby that you can find fulfillment through will help you get through this injury. You may even find a lifelong passion that sticks around even after your recovery, as I did with writing.
6. Lean on others for support
The last tip for mentally recovering from a physical injury is to lean on others when you can. If you were injured during a sport, it may be tempting to distance yourself from the team and your friends because it’s hard to watch everyone else playing when you can’t. But this is doing yourself a disservice mentally.
Having the support of friends and family will help you through your recovery. Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or someone to provide words of encouragement the support system will be comforting during this difficult time.
Surround yourself with positive people who can encourage you throughout your recovery from this physical trauma.
Those are the six life changing tips to mentally recover from a physical injury.
Recovering from an injury can be really difficult both physically and mentally. At times throughout your recovery, you will likely feel in denial, sad, angry, and all of the other negative emotions that come with dealing with a difficult challenge.
However, through things like finding acceptance, committing to your recovery, and seeking support from others you can find both physical and mental healing.
What positive things have you discovered about yourself after experiencing an injury?