Now that I’m over a week out from my car accident, which exacerbated a pre-existing shoulder injury, I’ve certainly had some time to reflect.
Dealing with this shoulder injury and mild whiplash left me not only largely immobilized, but also completely out of my element. I went from 5+ days per week of exercise down to virtually zero (though I did do 150 squats one day when I felt like I was losing my mind and have gone on several long walks). It has been as much a mental struggle as a physical one and I’ve learned so much.
One of the biggest surprises for me was how depressed I became after my accident. The stress of dealing with insurance along with the physical pain and frustration of missing work (and needing to find coverage for my clients), left me completely down. Not being able to run or lift weights to let off steam just made it worse. On top of that, I couldn’t prepare food (at least not easily) with one hand, so I started ordering out.
All of this led to a very unhappy and slightly “softer” Becki (you know what I mean, there’s a bit more puffiness where a harder body once existed). Being depressed + eating crap + not working out = bad news.
Now that I’ve finally returned to work (hallelujah!) I’m not as bored as I was just sitting at home, but I’m still not cleared to run, lift weights, etc. Dealing with this injury has proved to be a challenge and now that I’ve experienced it I can imagine others dealing with injuries might struggle as well.
We all hear plenty about how to deal with recovering physically from an injury (rest, combat inflammation with ice and NSAIDs, give it time, etc.), but much less about how to deal with the emotional and mental toll. To that end, here are my tips for dealing with injury on the mental/emotional side.
1. Don’t Sit Around
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t rest, because you absolutely should. Your body needs time to heal, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. If you can, go for a walk. If you can’t, at least open up the curtains and let some sunlight in. Tackle the books you have collecting dust on the shelf or stored on your Kindle. Sit out in the sunshine (with sunscreen, of course). Just make sure you’re doing something. If you’re a regular exerciser and can get in some sort of movement, you’ll feel much better for it. Keeping your brain active with reading or crossword puzzles will make you feel less stagnant. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends.
2. Make Healthy Food Choices
When you’re in pain or incapacitated it’s easy to fall out of a healthy eating routine–this is especially true if you can’t make food for yourself (something I learned the hard way). To keep from falling into this trap, plan ahead as much as possible. Many grocery stores have pre-chopped vegetables and pre-portioned meats that you can use in a pinch. If you’re bed-bound and must order delivery, try to stick to the healthiest options available or consider grocery delivery from a place that also carries hot bar and cold bar items. While not ideal, many times they are healthier than their restaurant counterparts. Your body will appreciate the healthy food, which will help aid in physical recovery as well as keep you feeling energized rather than weighed down.
3. Ask For Help
If you’re like me, you don’t like to feel helpless. That’s all well and good, but when you actually need help it’s important to ask for it, especially since being injured can start to feel very lonely. Rather than re-injuring yourself or becoming a hermit who only eats restaurant delivery, ask your friends, loved ones, and roommates to help out. No one wants to see you in pain or struggling to do things on your own when you don’t have to. This includes picking up groceries, help preparing food, and navigating the personal injury and insurance system, if it applies to you. Anything to help minimize the stress that makes you want to pull your hair out.
What tips do you all have for dealing with the mental and emotional stress that accompanies illness or an injury?
Which of my tips is the hardest for you to remember?