Tips to Neutralize the Psychological Impact of an Injury
Posted On: January 29, 2021
The Psychological Impact of Injury
Can you tell me about any person who doesn’t like a fairy-tale kind of miraculous recovery from an injury, with the movement of a magic wand? I bet you can’t give a single name but that’s not the reality.
Indeed, injuries can happen just in a blink of an eye to almost everyone may it be a sportsperson, a fitness freak, or a commoner while recoveries may take days to a month or even longer time. It may end up in few days if you are fortunate enough to have minor injuries, but in severe injuries like fractures, ligament tears, or concussions it goes to an undefined period or maybe unrecovered with lifelong morbidity and sometimes almost no return to sports.
Recognize and Don’t Underestimate the Psychological Component of Injury
Injuries not only affect the body but also have a daunting impact on the mind and soul hence recovery must never be labeled as complete by merely looking at its physical aspect as there is an associated psychological component too.
The majority of sports specialist underestimate this component and don’t devote due care. This unaddressed psychological unrest might precipitate over time and contribute to further injuries. it's all about recognizing injuries, learning how to face injuries, and accepting them. Nobody can predict injuries, but they can recognize their occurrence and condition their psychological reflexes towards injury.
The Need for a Social Support Network
A lot of people feel side-lined, isolated, and frustrated due to injuries. This is high time when they need a tough mindset and social support network to help them in combating the array of psychological aspects integrated with the injury.
Social support network comprises a team of experts like psychologist, coach, friends, and family members with whom they can get emotional, educational, and tangible support. A team spends maximum time together during the competition, practice, traveling, and share special bonds hence they can be crucial in overcoming this isolation.
Be Optimistic in Thoughts
An injury is kind of a trap to negativity and pessimism, where one can tend to think despondently and try to seek answers of why me. In this situation, they think that they are the unfortunate ones, and that’s why it happened or they have haunting flashes of injury. This defocuses them and derails their process of recovery. Staying positive through it all is the best solution to come out of it because once it happened, you simply don’t know if it was going to be short-term, long-term, midterm.
Read stories of different sports stars and their comeback. Believe me, everyone has faced these hurdles in their career at different points in time. These real-life stories will give you all the strength and motivation you need and they have been a constant source of inspiration, determination, and hard work to the future generation.
Be optimistic, after recovery you might be one of them with a good comeback story.
Use the Age-old Trick of Future Positive Self-images
Always visualize a positive Image of yourself working out in the gym or playing your sports in the future. Somewhere I read about a person who was working out to reduce his weight.
He hung a small size of his dress in front of him as a goal, which acted as a catalyst to achieve his goal. Although, these small mental tricks seem funny but proven miraculous in past.
Look for Other Adaptive Mechanism
Missing out on competition and team environment can compromise all aspects of your well-being including emotional and social. But, every adversity is an opportunity on the other side.
In this Covid lockdown, a lot many people took it positively and considered it an opportunity to learn something new, explored their hidden talents, and spent a good time with family. Likewise, in the recovery phase, you might write a book on your experiences with it, dabble with the cooking, or explore your time with new hobbies. Getting engaged is another way of averting negative thoughts from your mind.
An injury may last awhile, in this situation, one must look for different adaptive mechanisms to keep them going, engage their mind and maintain their love for their respective sport.
Keep a Check on Your Diet
During recovery, there are high chances to get pampered by the family regarding getting extra supply in the diet or there may be a possibility of digestion upsets due to physical and mental stress.
Both the scenarios are not in the larger interest of a person recovering from injury as it might fiddle with their body mass index which is vital for recovery. So, one should be very careful about the intake of extra calories or altered bowel mechanism.
Alternative Ways to Stay Fit
During the recovery process, I consider the biggest challenge is staying fit and maintaining your stamina. The biggest mistake which a player, athlete or person commit during the recovery process is following the plain meaning of the doctor’s advice of rest and goes into the comfort zone. You should make a habit to focus on what is written in between lines and reconnoitre different alternatives for keeping yourself fit and sports ready after recovery.
Adopt a Sensible Comparison Practice
I always advise my patients not to compare their recovery performance in shorter intervals like on daily basis to avoid self-guilt and disappointment. You should compare your performance against established parameters with a time interval to attain quantifiable changes on fortnightly basis.
Don’t Rush Back to Sports
Everyone can understand your eagerness to resume sports back but starting sports or gym activities again without completing rehabilitation or consulting a sports injury specialist might prove counterproductive. Incomplete healing of muscle or ligament might turn into havoc leading to a permanent disability or a more serious problem.
Hence, before joining activities back, get yourself evaluated with a qualified sports practitioner to assess your strength, flexibility, stamina, and opinion on the future course of graduated training program customized as per your needs.
Patience and Confidence are the Keys
This whole process wanders around who blinks first between hope and frustration. Patience is always rewarding in these instances because when they would retrospect this event after getting recovered, they would label it as just a small rough patch in their life.
Sometimes they might even lose confidence in their abilities. Because when players are recovering, one can see them questioning their movements after coming back from the injury. Here comes the role of sports specialists to reassure them regarding their recovery and the importance of confidence and patience.
Remember, you are neither the first nor last who had an injury, almost every athlete face some or other kind of injury. Having conditioned your mental reflexes towards such events might reduce physical, mental, financial suffering up to a certain extent and can make the recovery process less stressful.
Consider yourself at the field, gym, or in your arena and play this game of recovery with the same mental strength, zeal, and enthusiasm to win the recovery process.
By Dr. Priyank Gupta, Sr. Consultant - Sports Injury, Ligament Reconstruction & Arthroscopy Surgeon
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