Mental Health Series: Managing Your Mental Health After An Injury

Sitting in the jacuzzi yesterday morning, I came across a couple of “me too” moments as I chatted to strangers about the annoyingness of getting injured and needing to take up a new form of exercise. You see, it’s more common than you think and can have an impact on your routine, entire body and not surprisingly, mental health.

The aches and pains are still there as I sit on the sofa writing this post. I slept funny quite a few weeks ago now and left myself in a bit of pain down my neck and upper back. As my physio said, it’s not really clear what happened – just that there was some damage done there. Not having exercised for several weeks when the injury hit, it surely had an effect on my reaction to the inconvenience, which was pure stress. That coupled with not being able to work for a few days but instead lying in bed during sunny weather while popping muscle relaxants, added to the overall pain.

Now, feeling in better health with the odd pain, boyfriend massage, daily swim and date with my physio, I know in hindsight what would’ve helped – and what did work once I finally copped on and did it. You see, whatever about physical pain, it’s how you deal with it that ultimately tells how you’ll feel overall. Finding alternatives to your usual habits will mean that you’re not throwing in the towel. Instead, you’re adapting and moving – avoiding that feeling of being stuck for longer than necessary.

If you find yourself in the position of having a physical injury, being unwell or any other inconvenience that means you’re out of your routine for longer than you’d like, consider the steps that worked for me. You’ll be back on your feet and feeling your best in no time.

*Allow some time to rest. Lying in bed or on your sofa for too long can be boring however it is needed to recover for a period of time at least. It can feel lonesome and difficult, certainly if you are used to being busy however even a couple of days can make all the difference to your body. I made the mistake of trying to get moving too quickly which ended up leaving me back where I started within a few days – take that chill that you need.

*Avoid the FOMO (fear of missing out). I remember feeling like everyone was off having an unreal time, living their dreams and enjoying the sunshine and that’s because they were. In fairness, I would’ve been doing the same if I were them so I quickly got over myself and thought, what will I plan once I’m back on my feet?

*Support is needed. Ensure there is at least some human contact. Whether it’s your friend calling in for a cup of tea, your partner telling you about their day or a call to the outside world for the latest news – don’t stay too isolated. I got into this habit for way longer than I needed to and learned it can take its toll on your mental health.

*Adapt to what can work. I had been lifting weights in the gym and doing some cardio which I enjoyed however couldn’t go back to straight after my injury. Stewing for a few days, the lack of exercise continued to have an impact on how I was feeling and so, I knew I needed to look at options. This meant joining a new gym with a pool and adapting to a new form of exercise. It costs a little extra however when I broke it down, the amount of money was what I’d spend on coffees in a week. Guess which I deemed as more important?

Our bodies can be unpredictable and are usually trying to tell us something. For me, I reckon I wasn’t looking after myself well enough and my body thought – “How can we make her rest?”. In any event, there are ways and means of minding ourselves even if they’re not the obvious options we would’ve liked.