In the blink of an eye everything changes. You replay it over and over in your mind, what feels like a million miles per hour in an instant. Hundreds of questions and emotions rush over you. Thoughts overcome,
“What if I would have…” “Why me, why now…”
Injuries never knock on our door and politely ask to come in, but like an uninvited guest, they are notorious for barging in and making a mess of things. How often have you heard, “the timing was so bad!” But you know there is never really a “good time.” This guest just decides to show up.
This guest never comes alone. Close relatives quickly follow that are even more reckless than the injury itself. What was once a disciplined lifestyle with healthy habits is now a battleground with high potential for messy attacks of poor thinking patterns, anger, stress and bitterness.
Research is showing more and more how our mentality plays a significant role in chronic injury and how quickly we recover from an injury.
Stress impacts blood flow from going to the injured area, which is vital in recovery. Fear or stress can actually create poorer conditions to healing and longer hospital stays.
The way you speak to yourself can promote healing!
Its time for damage control…but where to start…
- Anchor in RESILIENCY
- Reassure yourself all will be well. A verse I repeated often during injury and still do is “consider it pure joy in any trial” (James 1:2-4). This is the kindling to keep your fire burning as this uninvited guest plants the icy cold distortions in your mind. It is time to melt away its lies with words that will keep your head above the water.
- This uninvited guest does not get to tell you how to think. This injury has already taken (for a moment) some of your physical ability away, but it will not get your mind.
- Embrace REALITY
- Remind yourself often that:
- An injury has happened.
- Life will be a little different (for at least a short while).
- This will prevent you from being in denial.
- Remind yourself often that:
- Take time to JOURNAL
- Explore your disappointment and frustration. An injury may require a grieving period, however big or small.
- Always seek to end your writings with a truthful encouraging word. “I wont always feel this way” can be a good start.
- Modify GOALS
- Goals need to be within your control, so focusing on physical therapy or keeping low stress levels are great places to start.
- You can still challenge yourself and feel accomplishments.
- Remember your WHY
- intrinsic motivation (having a love for your sport) has been shown to help with anxiety, as opposed to external motivation (this sport makes me fit or I like how people notice me).
- Why you compete will be a lasting fire and stoke your excitement to get back out there.
- Seek your SUPPORT SYSTEM
- For an athlete, there can be few things more isolating than an injury. Your identity is in question and it is easy to perceive others as not caring. Friends on the team and even coaches can seem like they have forgotten about you completely as they go about each day and practice. No time is a good time to allow envy/ jealousy or bitterness set in.
- Remember, the people that are truly there for you DO CARE and want to see you better.
- Find MENTORS
- Ask others who have been through similar injuries what they have done to rehab not only physically but mentally.
- Do research on athletes you look up to, I guarantee as you ask questions and seek advice, you will realize you are not as isolated as you may think.
After an injury, you want to come back stronger than before. These are attainable goals that anyone can set for themselves to stay motivated and return to play better than you left.
No matter where you are at in your injury or recovery these disciplines will keep you focused and improve your recovery time.