In many ways, our mental and emotional health can be just as distressed as our bodies. After all, our physical health and inner being are connected in more ways than one; they are intrinsically linked in that when one is in pain, the other aspect is affected as well.
If you live an active lifestyle and suddenly find yourself injured, you might experience feelings of grief and sadness that you’ve never felt before. Now more than ever, you need to care for your mind and heart aside from your body. Here are some mental health tips while recovering from an injury.
Stay connected with your doctor
When choosing a doctor, make sure to opt for one that specializes in the specific body part that is injured. For example, if you suddenly feel pain or discomfort in your foot, consider going to a podiatry clinic instead of a general practitioner. A podiatrist will help you zero in on the specific problem your foot is experiencing, so much more than a non-specialist could.
Once you are given a course of treatment that might include physical therapy and medication, remember that it doesn’t mean your connection needs to be severed. Don’t hesitate to stay connected with your podiatrist and be honest with them about your day-to-day progress. If you still feel a lot of pain, don’t stop yourself from opening up about it with your specialist. They can help you find healthy ways to relieve the pain and to inspect if the course of treatment they provided is not working. They can also help ease any worries or concerns you might have by answering your questions. One of the best ways to care for your mental health during this time is by keeping anxiety at bay through open communication lines with your doctor.
Acknowledge the mental and emotional toll the injury took on you
Experts say that denying or ignoring our emotions is bad for our health. This defense mechanism is understandable: We live in a society that celebrates “strength” in all forms and where crying and breaking down are seen as weaknesses. But now more than ever, especially in a time when we’re surrounded by so much death and grief, we need to have enough self-awareness to understand when a traumatic event—such as a physical injury—has affected us mentally and emotionally. We need to accept if our self-esteem and joy are taking a hit.
If we never accept that we are hurting mentally and emotionally, we will never be able to heal from it. We will only be sweeping these emotions under the rug until they rear their ugly head at a later time. If we don’t address them in healthy ways, these pains and distresses will spill over to our relationships, future goals, and other important aspects of our lives.
Don’t bottle up your feelings. Write them down, talk to someone you trust, allow yourself a good crying session. The situation feels hard because it is hard; you lost your mobility, your ability to play your favorite sport or do your workouts, and the injury might also have disrupted your capacity to work and gain income. Feeling bad about the situation is valid, and you deserve to acknowledge the mental and emotional distress that the physical injury caused.
Lean hard on your community
During this period, the last thing you need to do is to withdraw from people and isolate yourself from the people you love and who love you. Even when you feel like no one understands, you need to remain in contact with them and learn how to ask for help on, particularly hard days. This is especially crucial on days you would rather lock yourself in your room and keep people out. Here are some ideas for how you can stay connected to your family and friends during your recovery period:
- Host a game night or an intimate dinner party for a few of them.
- Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and feelings, no matter how small or inconsequential they may feel to you.
- Take this time to create mutuality by listening to them as well. Because many of our relationships have been disrupted during the pandemic, now may be the best time for you to reconnect with them after the turbulent past two years that we’ve had.
When one aspect of your being is in pain, you also need to care for the other parts. Listen to your body, mind, heart, and spirit, and don’t be afraid to reach out to people who love you. You will be up and about in no time.