Although we talk an awful lot about the healing process after a sports injury, something we’ve never touched upon is the mental side of injuries – the psychological way we cope with injury and the effect our mental state can have on healing.
An athlete can react in numerous different ways when an injury occurs which can range from anger, sadness, denial and even depression. What is key to effective healing is the promotion of a positive mind set to allow the athlete to cope allowing them to become more focused, flexible and resilient.
The first step is to learn as much about your injury as possible. This can include the cause, treatment, diagnosis, recovery and prevention and can prevent feelings of anxiety towards the injury and feel a greater sense of control.
The next stage is to accept responsibility for the injury which requires accepting that you have sustained the injury and that it is up to you to control the outcome. This again will provide a greater sense of control over the injury and prevent you from dwelling on the situation.
Maintaining a positive attitude throughout the healing process is key. This requires going for treatments, working hard and listening to the advice of doctors or physiotherapists and following through on their recommendations. Ensuring that you keep positive and shying away from any negative or self-defeating thoughts will give you more motivation to get better and be positive about your new routine as well as keeping you focussed. Research has proven that using certain menial skills and techniques can actually speed up the healing process.
Surrounding yourself with other who can motivate you and offer support is essential whether it be friends and family or your team mates or coaches. These people can offer advice and encouragement and also be there to listen when you feel down about your injury.
Taking the steps listed above, an injury can be overcome without having a huge impact on your mental state. Often it is easy for athletes to feel negative and isolated after an injury however by setting realistic goals and remaining positive and focussed, athletes can find that they are able to heal much quicker.