Relaxation and Recovery After Injury

It can quite stressful being injured.

Hurting yourself is not fun and quite literally can be a pain in the <insert sore body part here>.

Not only does your physical health need time to process and heal, but often so too does your mental health.

Pain is tiring in both mind and body.  Mindset plays a big part in the recovery from an injury in exactly the same way that physical injury influences mindset.

And thus a vicious circle can very quickly start and get out of control.

Physios, Doctors and various other health professionals have expertise in helping a body recover from an injury.  Exercises, treatments, medicines, bandages and rest all play their part in a recovering body.

You’ve no doubt heard the old saying about “a healthy mind and a healthy body”.  However it becomes rather obviously fairly quickly that while eating a daily apple might keep the doctor away, it does nothing if you are feeling stressed, tense and worried about getting better.

When your mind is focussing on the pain, it can easily become foggy, confused, lost and disconnected from normality.  All that exists is pain.

So how do you get your mind into the right space and place ?

The short answer is that it’s actually quite difficult.  It can actually be directly proportional to the amount of pain you might be experiencing.  The more pain you might be in, the harder it is to regain mental clarity and the mental strength to control your mind enough to control your body.

The long answer is it takes deliberate and conscious effort.  And it’s arguably just as hard as physical recovery.

In exactly the same way a physio might guide an injured body into a series of ever increasing physical exercises, the mind also needs to take baby steps and slowly increase.

The more a mind gets used the stronger it becomes – just like the body’s muscles.

Relaxation And Recovery After Injury

Taking your mind off the injury and the associated worries is just as high a priority as completing a recovery exercise program.  But when you’re in pain, this is more easily said than done.

Try to find as comfortable a position as is possible given the limitations of your injury.  With my lower back disc protrusion, for me, the most comfortable I could get was lying down flat on the floor.

Different people obviously will have different ideas about taking their minds off something that is troubling them.  However, some initial suggestions where physical activity or general movement might be restricted are:

• Read a book,
• Watch the TV – a movie, a series on DVD, netflix, youtube, Xbox, Playstation, etc,
• Surf the net – an ipad, a phone, a tablet,
Listen to podcasts,
• Listen to music – preferably some relaxation music and preferably through headphones,
• Meditation – guided meditation audios can help, or you can try your own,
• Crosswords, colouring books, studies, research.
• Talking to a friend, a relative, a confidant – the phone can help !
• Deep breathing and controlled breathing.
• Sewing, quilting, painting, arts, crafts

Once your physical injury allows a bit more movement, then this opens up a few more options for mental strength training and mental distraction.

Remember, the aim here is to take your mind away from the pain.  This then provides some escape from the pain haze that can be so debilitating.

Going for a walk is a fantastic way to clear your mind: especially with some headphones and your favourite music playing.  Don’t forget to look both ways carefully when crossing the road !!

Interestingly, exercise can be a form of relaxation.  If you are injured, then going for a 16 hour run or bike ride, or a massive session at the gym, is probably not a good idea.  However, if you can get your heart pumping – even just a little – then this will help immensely.

The positive response that your body will give to your mind through exercise will help clear both the physical and mental cobwebs.

Getting plenty of sleep will also aid in the recovery of both your mind and your body.

Sleep helps the body regain strength, which in turn helps the body to function properly allowing you to exercise (gently… don’t over do it !), which in turn helps the mind, which in turns promotes more sleep.

Pretty soon a beneficial cycle starts and can continue on with very little effort, once the habit is formed.

When possible, go out of your way to return to your favourite hobby.  Play your musical instrument, attend your classes, learn something new, interact and meetup with friends, go and watch your favourite team play (cheer loudly !!), see a band, go to a concert or the theatre.

Quite simply, the mid influences the body and the body influences the mind.

Mental strength can be just as difficult to return as physical strength.

It takes work and effort, just like physical recovery.

Basically, you need to relax. (Sorry – that is possibly THE most unrelaxing sentence I could have written !)

Kelly Exeter has a quite interesting and relevant pdf that she calls “A Manifesto For A Simple Life”.

It is relevant to the resting and relaxing and recovering topic of this post.  Thanks Kelly !

Resting and relaxation aids the recovery process.

Relaxing is obviously differently things to different people.

Anything that calms the mind and calms the body will help you to recover from your injury.

If drinking Pina Coladas by the pool on some tropical island resort is your idea of relaxation – and physically you are able – then go for it !

Getting away from your daily routine of pain can do wonders for your recovery process.  Can you find somewhere that has fresh air, birds, trees, rivers / lakes / oceans that is easy to get to and fits within your budget ?

Even a day trip to the beach or mountains can restore a sense of calm to your mind.

The psychology of pain is quite interesting.  It takes conscious effort, but removing your thoughts from the pain and getting back to normality will help immensely.

There are many possible options that help with relaxation and recovery after injury.

Is there something specific that you do to relax ?  Please let me know in the comments below.



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by Rick Plumridge and Matthew Harding | River to the Sea