A month ago I went for my normal Saturday morning run, completed my normal route but 5 miles in I tripped and fell over on the road. I wish it was more drastic than it sounds. I would like to say that I dodged a car or a stampede of cows but no…I fell over and cut my knee, elbow and hand. What a pa-larva! I eventually got home and treated the injuries and for the next few hours I was quite happy to sit still and not move because the pain was so intense and I hate to admit it but it shook me up quite a lot.
I struggled to continue my usual exercise routine, I should have rested the next few days, but I kept doing as much as I could because I was scared to find out what might happen if I didn’t. It’s no secret that exercise can be a hugely important component to staying mentally healthy and happy. According to the National Institutes of Health, exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative mood, and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.
My mood definitely took a turn for the worse during those few weeks. I can only be grateful that it did not put me out for longer. Here are a few things that I have learned that have helped me maintain my mental health while dealing with a physical injury:
1. While it might not feel like it and seems initially counter intuitive, letting yourself rest is not time wasted.
2. No matter the nature or expected duration of your injury, there are still things you can do that can help you feel productive, active and keep you mostly in a positive head space. I made sure to eat healthier and drink less while still getting the vitamins and nutrients I needed to heal.
3. Writing or journaling your thoughts and feelings is a great way to connect to the emotions and literally get them out. This can help to not feel so overwhelmed or aligned with them and be more objective to the situation and what you can do to improve it.
4. Therapists are great not only for hearing you out but many are also great at giving you some positive direction that, if you’re willing to work at it, will help you improve between sessions.
5. Keep up with your regular social calendar as much as possible. You may have to change the types of plans, but spend time with those who are positive and drama free.
6. You will get better. Even if the injury itself has chronic tendencies, you will find ways to improve and regain your physical health. And no matter how sad, depressed, anxious or agitated you feel, always remember that you will get better. It may take some work, and it may take some time, but it will be worth doing whatever it takes.
I am now back to running and exercise and it is a great feeling!