So sorry to hear about your injury. As you know, I can fully—and I mean FULLY—empathize!
I think for most of us the toughest part of being injured isn’t the physical pain (although that can get pretty nasty too), it’s the fact that we’re being held captive by a malfunction in our bodies that renders us incapable of doing something we want to do. In other words, it’s mental.
Being injured is something we have no control over. And now instead of making our bodies work for us, we have to work for them. If you’re like me, this realization makes you feel weak, helpless, irritated, depressed, and a legion of other negative dark ‘n’ stormy emotions. Though I hate to admit it, I’ve been to some pretty dark emotional places these past few weeks, and my injury wasn’t even that bad compared to what many people deal with.
As with all things, however, it’s been a learning experience. So here are a few tips, based on my experience, on how to MENTALLY deal with a PHYSICAL injury. All learned (or, semi-learned anyway) the hard way.
Make taking care of yourself your number one priority! I mean, our health should ALWAYS be our number one priority, right? It’s just that sometimes we get busy… or we get lazy… or we get to thinking we’re invincible and nothing bad will every happen to us… or whatever. It’s only when something goes wrong that we remember OH YEAH, our bodies are extremely delicate instruments that need constant nurturing and care.
Face it guys, if you’re body was a car you’d never buy it; the maintenance is too high. And if you DON’T do the maintenance, well, things go wrong. So use this time to REALLY take care of yourself and do everything you can to allow your body to HEAL. Healthy eating, massage, epsom salt baths, foam rolling, resting, sleeping, all those things you KNOW are good for you, this is the time to do them! Make it your JOB.
I guess this isn’t really a mental thing, technically. But it will help occupy your time and your mind while you heal, and puts a positive spin on the experience. WOW! You have this GREAT opportunity to be good to YOU! Enjoy it!
Don’t be so hard on yourself! Your injury may require that you modify your practice slightly. You may need to take it easy in some postures, and omit others entirely. You may even need to take a (GASP!) rest day. If you’re like me, this makes you EXTREMELY antsy. I’m used to pushing myself hard. I’m used to my body looking and feeling a certain way as a result. And I’m conditioned to think I’m “being lazy” or “slacking off” if I slip up. Really though, backing off your normal routine to heal your injury isn’t being lazy. Honestly, it’s being SMART. This is the time for taking care of yourself (see above). This may NOT be the time for you to work on that six pack or lock out your Standing Bow. It’s ok. There will be PLENTY of time for that after you heal yourself. For now, allow your body to do what it needs to do!
Aside: This has been the HARDEST thing for me. I would like my abs back now, please!
Know that it’s ok to mope. What?! Did you think I was going to tell you to be all sunshine and lollipops about the whole injury thing?
Being injured will probably bring up a TON of emotions for you. And they will probably be mostly negative. Some people will tell you to suppress these feelings, ignore them, let them go, etc. I don’t buy that. I think that in order to let something go, you HAVE to allow yourself to really feel it first. To ignore the way you feel about something invalidates what you’re going through. So let yourself be sad, if you’re feeling sad. One of the peculiar gifts of this experience is that it will let you know how much you’re capable of feeling, and that may surprise you. And even though the emotions you feel may be “negative”, the ability to feel them just lets you know how ALIVE you are. So feel everything, but don’t let it define you.
Know that your body is changing every day. Being injured sucks, but it’s not forever! Your body is changing with every moment and every breath—REALLY! And as much as things suck now, when you see your body start to heal and become stronger, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world. Nothing makes you appreciate health like an injury! It may take time, but you WILL recover, and probably be even stronger for it!
Did that help? Eh? Maybe a little? I know, NOTHING really helps when you’re injured. But at least you know there are others out there (like me!) who understand how you feel!
Thanks for sharing your story—and thanks to ALL of you who have written, messaged, and sent your thoughts and support! You are ALL my favorite person!
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES! And Namaste!