How To Stay Sane When You’re Injured

If running or working out is part of your daily life. If it’s the one thing that burns stress, and keeps your emotions in check. If it makes you happy. Well, you know all too well the devastation of an injury.

For me, an injury can put me in a tailspin. I find it hard to concentrate after a few days without a run. My anxiety is heightened, only to be followed by a deep low.

I pulled my hamstring a few weeks ago. I know. Not a catastrophic injury, but nonetheless one that impedes upon my running. Meaning, I can’t run.

I noticed a major shift in my mood over the past few weeks. No longer did I have my long Saturday morning runs to look forward to. Or, my favorite 2 miler runs during the week. Heck, I’ve even had to sit out of my own run club.

And, that major shift in my mood started to affect my outlook on life. When I noticed that happening, I halted everything. Took a step back. And took control. And, here’s how I’ve handled staying sane while injured.

Meditation/Mindfulness/Prayer

Saunas are now my favorite thing ever. I’ve spent a lot of time in the sauna recently. It allows me to sweat everything out, like I had just gone for a run, but it’s the perfect zen place to get my mind right, just as running usually does. sauna

For me, it’s prayer and mindfulness that gets me to the place I need to be. But, there is so much to be said for meditation. Take this article from breakingmuscle.com: Control Pain and Speed Up Recovery with Meditation.

“Meditation gives athletes the ability to stay calm in the eye of the storm.”

Taking a step back to put things into perspective, according to this article, not only helps you see the goodness that can come from this difficult time, but may also help lessen the pain.

[Meditation] enables you to see the truth of a situation rather than letting emotion skew your opinions and reactions.

Limit Alcohol

Seriously. If you’re unable to burn it off and sweat it out, limit it. Alcohol is not only empty calories but can make anxiety/depression far worse. The last thing you want is to be filled with anxiety and unable to move.

What can you do instead of drinking that’s still fun and engaging? Great question. Here’s a list:

  • Sing a song
  • Make a scrapbook
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Learn a new language
  • Count backwards from 1,000
  • Start a blog
  • Get a dog

Literally, anything. But, if you’re in Charlotte here are a couple of my favorite websites to go to and find out what’s going on in my city: Charlotte Agenda and Offline.

Gratitude

When I’m in a slump, I practice gratitude. When I’m playing the “Woe is me” card or the “my life sucks” or the “why does everything always happen to me” card, I take a step back. I will actually go somewhere on my lunch break, with my notebook, and write a list of AT LEAST 10 things I’m grateful for.

gratitudeIt can be something as small as, “I’m thankful that I made that green light this morning and wasn’t late to my meeting.” Picking out the smaller things makes me happier, because they’re typically not something you think about on a daily basis, but how wonderful are they? I’m thankful, at this very moment, for a microwave to warm up my coffee and keep me writing.

And, if you have a free 7 minutes, please watch this video. It’s Inky Johnson, former Tennessee safety. He details his childhood and the travesty he encountered during one fateful game. You have to watch it. After all he’s been through, he’s still grateful.

Go to the Doctor

You’re probably thinking, “Duh.” But, I’m being real here. I wasn’t going to go to the doctor for my little hamstring injury. And then I did. And now I’m in physical therapy. You may not truly know what’s wrong until you get a second opinion.

Focus on Other Workouts

Take this time to try a new workout. One that doesn’t make your injury worse, of course. You might find something new that you can focus your energy on. I’ve been doing more strength training. Yes, it’ll take some time to build up my stamina once I start running again, but I’ll hopefully be stronger because of where I’m focusing my energy now.

Talk Yourself Through It

This is very similar to the meditation/mindfulness/prayer section, but it’s different in a sense. During a period of injury, you’re still you, right? Well, yes, of course. So, you’re going to be in the same body you were in pre-injury, except it’s not going to work the same way.

This is the time to focus on accepting your body for all of its imperfections. And you can do that through being ever-present of all of the negative thoughts that flow through. Talk yourself through them. Are they rational? I’m going to guess, probably not. Use this time as an opportunity to build your mental stamina.

Finally, RELAX

You’re injured. You’re body needs to relax.

You’re mind needs to relax. It’s going to OK. You will get better, and if you don’t you will cope. We’re malleable people if we allow ourselves to be. So, relax and trust whatever is in store. Stressing over it? That’s going to make it worse.

You got this. I promise.

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I overcame an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression with the help of this wonderfully amazing thing called running. And that's why I'm here - to share my story and to help those who are going through what I've already gone through. On this blog you'll find running tips, mental health tips, and lots of joy. Join me as we piece life together one run at a time.

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