As an athlete, it will take two roads to fully recover from an injury. To come back stronger, physical recovery should come with mental recovery. Both of which requires the same level of attention. Veering away from the importance of mental health in the body’s rehabilitation can pose a problem in the post-injury performance. It can also trigger mental health issues such as eating disorders, substance abuse, and depression.
This is why it’s imperative to find physical therapists who can integrate psychological concepts in the athlete’s physical rehabilitation. As the body uses accessories in physical therapy exercises, the mind should undergo graded exercises and graded exposure. Talking with a psychiatrist or a life coach is helpful, too. However, athletes often have trouble communicating their psychological struggles. Having been trained to push through despite their physical ordeals, athletes have developed a coping mechanism which makes it difficult to address their mental state.
Here are ways, on top of physical and psychological therapies, that will improve your mental wellbeing:
Learning how to meditate is not easy. It takes focus and practice. It is, however, worth the effort, considering the beneficial effects it has for inner peace and mental wellbeing. It can alleviate your frustration and calm your mind from the anguish that comes with an injury. Apps like Headspace are available in guiding your daily meditations, but mostly, it only requires you and your breathing, making it accessible wherever you are.
There are matters that you can still control despite your injury. Focus on them. If your injury temporarily hinders you from physical activities, zero in on choices that will help you in your recovery period and your post-injury performance. Focus on keeping your body healthy by choosing food and drinks that will elevate your mood and keep your body strong.
For someone who’s always in action, the time spent resting can result in guilt. Without anything else to do, it’s easy for negative thoughts to brew and wallow in them. Don’t. Use the mental strength you use when you’re out in a match to topple these thoughts. If you’re tired of doing so, rest. Just rest. Think of your rest time as preparation time– preparation for your comeback, preparation as you move forward.
Keep a journal to have a private space where you can genuinely express your thoughts and emotions without inhibitions. By doing so, you’ll be more aware of how you are truly feeling about your situation. The catharsis after letting the emotions out will reduce your contained stress. Your journal can also be a guide for you when you attend therapy, which will help your psychiatrist in determining your mood patterns.
Don’t isolate yourself during this time. Being immobile doesn’t mean you can’t catch up with your friends and teammates on mobile. Invite friends over to watch movies and play video games. Spend time and accept the presence of people who are positive and encouraging. Carry on with your social calendar, even if you have to tweak an activity or two. For sure, your loved ones will understand.
Staying positive is easier said than done. It takes a whole lot of willpower, and belief that the future has something good for you. Your rehabilitation period is not permanent. When all of this is over, you’ll come out as a stronger athlete– experienced and learned.