Sustaining any type of injury can be jarring. Typically, injuries are unexpected and sudden. However, they often change your life drastically — for a short or long period of time. Whatever the case, it’s important to take care of yourself during recovery. You may be following your doctor’s orders and resting adequately, but you need a holistic approach to recovery to come out on top. Learn how to recover through the following physical and mental self-care techniques.
How Injuries Affect Your Mind and Body
Your lifestyle will determine a large part of your reaction to being injured. For example, an athlete may take an injury harder if it takes them out of commission for a season or, worse, the rest of their lives. Regardless of the details of your life, it’s possible for an injury to make you feel lots of emotions such as:
- Anger and frustration;
- Avoidance and isolation;
- Lack of motivation;
It’s normal to feel all of these things and more if you are dealing with healing from an injury. Feeling this way can cause disturbances in your normal routine. Plus, being unable to move at all or without restrictions like a wheelchair, crutches, or cane can leave you more immobile than before. For these reasons, you may experience:
- Changes in appetite;
- Impaired cognitive function;
- Side effects of the particular injury;
- Sleep issues like insomnia or oversleeping;
- Reduced participation in regular activities.
Sometimes, longer periods of resting time can lead to bed sores, weight loss, and muscle deterioration. This all sounds daunting, but there are ways to stay positive and combat the negative effects injuries sometimes have on our lives.
Coping During Recovery
Injuries, big or small, can clearly take a toll on your mental and physical wellness. Coping after injury involves being kind to yourself, first and foremost. Give yourself grace as your body is working to recover. Depending on the nature of the injury, this can mean many things. For example, a personal injury can leave you feeling despondent. Financial strain can also be a source of stress, worry, and sadness.
Allow yourself to feel these feelings. It’s important to feel them to move through them and heal. If you find it helpful, map out your customized journey on paper. This will allow you to set small goals and celebrate milestones along the way. Along with this, engage in positive thinking. Watch feel-good movies and practice gratitude journaling to train your brain. Think of it like physical therapy for your brain — the more you exercise your positive thinking muscle, the easier it will be to use it.
Keep Tabs on Your Mental Health
If you find that you are still having trouble coping, that doesn’t mean you have failed. Many people who sustain injuries of all kinds seek help from mental health professionals. This is a great option to work through your complex emotions and get back on a path to healing. They can guide you through healthy coping mechanisms and provide resources, like support groups and worksheets, to facilitate this process.
Your mental health during injury recovery can waver. However, realizing you are not alone can help tremendously. Talk to others with similar injuries in support groups, your friend network, or online forums. Set realistic goals for yourself with the help of your medical team, if necessary. For example, someone with a sprained leg could set a goal of moving one more inch out of bed on their own every day. Again, make sure to create goals that are well within reach and responsible given your specific injury. This way, you can feel good about your progress and remain motivated to recover.
Stay Busy With Hobbies and Activities
Your mind may be dwelling on your injury and the negative aspects surrounding it due to the simple fact that you are bored. You may be restricted in the activities you can do and left to your own devices to stew. Instead, it’s helpful for your mind and body to incorporate hobbies and activities into your daily routine.
Although you may not be able to enjoy all the hobbies you used to fill your time with, you can use this as an opportunity to learn something new or dive deeper into existing interests. This can be anything from taking short nature walks for birdwatching to playing online games. Boredom can lead to health risks like engaging in harmful behavior or feeling unable to take care of yourself. Instead of getting to that point, write a list of reasonable activities to try and refer to whenever you feel a wave of boredom coming on.
Eat and Drink Mindfully
One of the harmful behaviors that can result from boredom or negative feelings is over- or undereating. Dehydration can also occur if you aren’t being mindful of what you are consuming throughout the day. To keep your body healthy and able to fight off infections and heal properly, you need to eat and drink adequate portions each day.
There are even healing foods that can make you feel better along your recovery journey. For example, ginger can help soothe an upset stomach from any harsh medications you are taking. Work with your physician to create a meal plan if you need assistance doing so.
Follow a Physician-Approved Fitness Plan
You can return to health more easily if you follow your physician’s instructions. Of course, it’s your body and you can tell what it needs to some degree. However, your injury is likely new to you. Following a doctor-approved plan for exercise and physical rehabilitation can facilitate healing.
By implementing all of the above tips and listening to your body, you can be on the path to recovery in no time. Remember that hiccups in your recovery plan are normal. Find support in others and solace in knowing that you are strong enough to get through anything life throws your way.
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