No matter how you look at it, getting injured sucks. You were at the top of your game: and now forced to break from your training, your life, your established routine and the sports activities you love. And it’s more than the physical injury you have to recover from, you now have to build yourself and your confidence back to where they were.
Frustration, anger, disappointment, grief and fear, are some of the many negative emotions capable of heading your way right now; because when our body is injured and in survival mode we automatically begin preparing for the worst. This almost unconscious negativity can not only bring you down but delay your recovery time too.
We‘ve put together some practical tips for staying positive while recovering from any injury. Concentration and directing your mind can often be harder work than 100km on the bike or that final bench press. But if you put in the work, you can keep yourself ahead of the game and ready for the next challenge. Are you ready?
1. Practice Meditation
Meditation is one of the simplest and best ways to keep a positive mindset while injured. Whether you’re on crutches, wheelchair bound, bed-ridden, or just been sidelined you can practice meditation. The best thing about meditation is it’s a chance to switch off from the physical reality of your injury and clear your mind of negativity.
All day and all night your injury is right there in front of you: and if you are waiting in a doctor’s surgery or lying in a hospital bed it’s really easy for your mind to focus on the hurt rather than the healing. Even short 10 minute meditations can reset your mind for positivity and recovery.
QUICK TIP: take time through the day to find a place to sit, and tell your body to be still. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Every time you have a thought (my foot hurts, when will I be well, I’m hungry) don’t argue with it, just bring your awareness back to your breathing and let the thought pass like a news headline moving across the bottom of a TV screen.
2. Be Solution Orientated
When we are down with an injury, an easy habit to fall into is asking disempowering questions that focus on problems and mistakes instead of solutions. Do you hear yourself asking … Why has this happened? Why did I do ….? Why didn’t I think to …? Will I ever be the same? Why me? The biggest problem with these types of questions are that you’re still not left with a solution.
Jeffrey Hodges, founder of Sportsmind, suggests to instead ask questions that focus on solutions … How can I turn this around? How can I stay motivated? Who else has successfully recovered from an injury like mine? What could I do today to improve my overall wellbeing?
QUICK TIP: check out the range of books by Performance Consultant and Sports Mentor, Jeffrey Hodges in our Mental Training Zone.
When you’re injured there is a very good chance your mind will be focusing on the past — after all that’s when the injury happened. Focusing on the past keeps you in an endless cycle of reviewing past mistakes, self-criticism and blame. But now is the time to focus your attention on the future, healing and new possibilities. Visualising yourself completely recovered is a powerful tool for creating change (including a positive mindset).
Jeff Hodges suggests that “we human beings are a lot like guided missiles – we move in the direction of our regular and consistent thoughts and imaginings.” And more importantly whenever we link a vivid picture with a strong feeling, it has an almost magnetic attraction.
Our subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. In fact it’s scientifically proven now that the cells and muscles in your body respond in very similar ways whether you are to imagining an action or physically doing it. So visualising your full recovery, as well as the future you living a full and completely healthy life is a big step to recovery.
QUICK TIP: every time you catch yourself in an act of self-criticism or disempowering self-talk, turn it into an opportunity for creative visualisation. Imagine exactly how you want your life to look and clearly see it unfolding in your mind.
4. Set Achievable Goals
Setting yourself daily achievable goals is an important part of recovery as well as a boost to damaged self-esteem. Goals should be meaningful and realistic, yet challenging enough to make you feel accomplished when you tick it off the daily list.
A meaningful goal is something that is actually steering you towards your recovery. A realistic goal is something that you can actually do today. A challenging goal is something that will push you.
Imagine you’ve broken both legs and the pain meds have you pretty damned sleepy. At some point you realise you are sleeping most of the day and when you aren’t sleeping you’re mindlessly watching Netflix. Your intention might be to sleep less and not watch as much TV, but this isn’t the goal you set.
Because goals should always focus on a positive, try instead to set a goal that fills your time (then you will have less time for sleeping). How about “spend 30 minutes today reading Sportsmind by Jeff Hodges” or even better “read chapter 2 of Sportsmind”.
QUICK TIP: don’t confuse long term goals like ‘walk unassisted’ (which provide a long term vision) with daily short term goals like ‘use the toilet unassisted’ (which provide a sense of daily progress).
Finally we’ll leave you with an important quote from Jeff Hodges about the importance of believing.
“Self-belief, in my opinion, is the single most essential characterising trait of the champion athlete. However, like motivation, concentration, a positive attitude, and so on, it’s a learned behaviour".
Without doubt the biggest influence upon self-belief and self confidence is the ability to cope with mistakes, failures, poor performances, and outright rejection in your life. Everyone can believe in themselves when things are going well! It’s only when the chips are down and your back is to the wall that your underlying self-belief is really tested, and either found wanting, or is strengthened by the adversity.”
QUICK TIP: practice positive self-talk and positive affirmation statements daily: “I’m motivated and enthusiastic about my recovery” “I am healed” “everyday my body feels stronger”.
The BodyICE team are passionate about physical and mental wellness. Don’t stop believing in yourself and in your recovery, keep your mind focused on the possibilities, visualise your winning future, meditate, and take small but meaningful steps each day that get you one step closer to the completely well you.
For help with mental imagery, head to our Mental Training Zone to access our books and download our latest visualisation tracks narrated by Jeffrey Hodges.
About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed Sportsmind, Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings and Sports Hypnosis training manual - All available in our Mental Training Zone.
He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sports clubs and successful athletes worldwide.