If you’ve been seriously injured, it can do more than damage your body, it can damage your psyche as well. You could be skittish about trying new things, overly fearful of everyday activities, or even just afraid to engage in the activities that you used to enjoy. Fighting back can be as much about the mental game as much as the physical.
For that reason, it’s important to have a plan whenever you’ve been hurt. Talk to your doctor and develop a strong support staff to encourage you in the dark times, but make sure you also follow a few core principles.
1. Develop a Solid Rehab Program
When you’re injured, it can be tempting to let your body simply dictate the speed at which you will engage in new activities. While that’s not the worst idea, overdoing it can aggravate the injury even further and prolong the time of recovery. Furthermore, an overly aggressive rehab program could cause severe damage that could sideline you from certain activities permanently.
Despite common arguments, most injuries are not something you can just work through. Ligaments need to be rebuilt, bones need to set, or cartilage needs to grow before those limbs can function properly; without a proper rehab program, you could be “pushing through pain” to your own detriment (additionally, if you start relying too much on medication to manage the pain, consider starting a painkiller addiction treatment). Start slow and always operate under a doctor’s orders. Most importantly, have patience.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Rest
Your body needs time to heal; in some cases, it could take weeks or months of inactivity to allow it to do so. Most people resist allowing their body to rest under the mistaken belief that their body will get out of shape or lose mobility. In reality, rather than simply allowing your body to lay stagnant in the bed, a period of rest can be just the thing your body needs to add extra flexibility to your joints.
Ultimately, you have to learn to listen to your body and convey what it’s telling you to your doctor and physical therapist who can make the proper adjustments. It may be possible to work out one part of your body while the other part heals; if you’re an athlete, this may be a perfect time to develop other parts of your game. Regardless, if your movements are past the point of uncomfortableness and are starting to feel significant pain, it’s best to ease back a bit.
3. Stay Positive
If you’re used to being active, the worst part about being injured will be the constant feeling of laziness and wasted time. Even if you’re not especially active beforehand, the voice inside your head may be strong, telling you that you’ll never be back to where you used to be. For some people, that’s enough to drive them insane.
Defeat the voice in your head by telling yourself that not only will you come back as strong as you were before, but better than ever. Use this time period to stoke the competitive flames inside of you that will allow you to tackle therapy full-force. Repeat phrases like, “I hate sitting here, I can’t wait to get back to therapy.” Replace self-defeating thoughts with self-fulfilling prophecies about your future achievements.
4. Take Precautions for the Future
As hard as it may be, try to relive the event that caused you to be injured and ask yourself, “What steps can I take to minimize these accidents in the future?” If you were hurt playing sports, ask yourself if your form was sloppy or if you got over-aggressive. If you were hurt in a mundane activity, were you not paying attention? Whatever landed you in this position in the first place, try to piece together the events that led you to this moment. Improve on them and make a determination to get better in the future.