It’s been a while.
You almost question if you still have what it takes. Stepping back out there you are hit with a wave of emotions. Most likely the more time that you were injured, the greater the emotions you feel. So whether a few days or years, the excitement of getting back out to compete or work out again after an injury either makes you feel good or scares the crap out of you. That’s normal but you can learn to embrace it this time.
Mentally, what holds you back, is fear.
What is fear?
Fear is a feeling caused by apparent danger. This causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and how you act. Fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events are the most common ways people act when fear takes over. Fear may even occur in anticipation of something coming.
Physical response to fear:
- Heart racing
- Shallow breathing
- Upset stomach
Emotional response to fear:
Psychological response to fear:
- Difficulty thinking
- Hard to learn
Fear must be everyone’s greatest enemy.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Most likely, there was a much lower level of fear before your injury. But now, since your injury, your metabolism, organs, thoughts and behavior lead to “hiding, freezing or fleeing.” All of which are not helpful for someone to compete, learn, and unlock their potential.
Competing with fear after an injury actually INCREASES your likelihood of a future injury. That is because fear typically blocks our thinking and stiffens our body. As cortisol from stress is released it makes our minds more distracted, so mistakes are more likely to occur. It makes it difficult to learn, stay positive or encourage anyone else.
Here are a few things to keep in mind that may help you when coming back from an injury:
- Let go!
- Let go of where you were at before the injury, you are only living in the past. You can only control right here and right now. Time to embrace reality and set new goals for yourself, but be realistic.
- Take it slow!
- It is tempting to start with a full out sprint, picking up the same exercises and level of training where you left off, have compassion and patience with your body.
- Listen to those aches & pains!
- If you are chronically injured and battling through aches, that could be a sign you haven’t learned to listen to your body. Many have heard their coach ask “are you hurt or are you injured?” And many can tough out feeling “hurt” – the dull constant ache in practice. But signs that you are “injured” are if the pain increases during your workouts or continues after a day of rest or more.
- Watch your thinking!
- Distortions will only put you in harms way. Put them in their place and remind yourself of the truth. The more time you allow a distortion to run freely in your mind, the more difficult it will be to fight it off alone.
For more on how your mind actually heals injury, check out our first post here.