5 Ways to Mentally Survive an Injury
Most active people have been there; you find yourself with an injury that sidelines you for weeks, months, or even longer. The physical injury, however, is the easy part. We’re all used to enduring pain (hell, some of us put ourselves through 26.2 miles of running for fun!) No, the hard part is the mental aspect; knowing you can’t get your emotional fix from your workout. Let’s face it, exercise is therapy for those of us that love it. Here are some ways to help endure the time off without losing your mind:
1- Instead of throwing yourself an extended pity party, ask yourself if there’s a lesson in this for you. (Of course, you’re entitled to a day of “why me?”, but after that it serves no positive purpose and no one will want to be around you). Recently, I mysteriously cracked two ribs (literally, was watching The Golden Globes when it struck). My chiropractor asked me if I was under stress and told me I should start….meditating?? Yep, stress has a way of making you take notice of your mental well being whether you want to or not. So, I saw this as an opportunity to take some time off, start breathing more, and appreciating my health again. When you can’t walk or even blow your nose, it’s amazing how grateful you feel when you can do ordinary tasks again.
2- Volunteer. Working with others less fortunate than yourself makes you realize that you don’t have it so bad after all. Life is all about perspective. Maybe you can’t run right now, but some people will never walk again. Working with adaptive athletes has been a truly rewarding and life changing experience for me. Whether it’s volunteering at a shelter, working with kids or seniors, find something you’re passionate about and you will develop an attitude of gratitude.
3- Find a way, if possible. If you have a broken leg and can’t walk/run, you can still work the upper body and core. There are even non-weight bearing exercises you can do for your legs. Same with upper body; can’t lift? You can still work legs and do most cardio. Maybe you have a condition like RA and can’t do anything impactful. Yoga, Pilates and swimming are great options for you. There’s always a reason to say you “can’t” do something. Start looking for reasons why you CAN! Not sure how? Find a qualified trainer to help.
4- Pick up a new hobby. If there are places you’ve always wanted to visit, or a new hobby you’ve wanted to take up but just couldn’t find time with your work schedule and training routine, now is the time! After all, you’ll have a lot of free hours away from the gym, mountain or pavement, so why not?
5- Take the down time to connect with loved ones. Use that time you’d spend at the gym to have lunch dates with old friends, grab coffee with your sister, or go to the park with your dog. Keeping yourself busy is good mentally, but being around people we care about is good for the soul in times of distress.
No one is happy about developing an injury, nor am I saying you won’t still have moments of sadness missing the sport or workout you love. But, we can make the down time less miserable and focus on positive aspects of our lives. This too shall pass, my friends! ✌