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Mental Health and Coping with Sports Injury: The Psychological Aspect to Getting Back in the Game

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Maintaining your mental health after a sporting injury can be challenging. You’re not able to participate in your favorite pastime and may lose touch with your routine when you’re laid up in bed. 


It’s easy to feel frustrated when an injury forces you to rest, too. You have to accept that your physical fitness will decline while you recover and may struggle to accept the long-term consequences of a bad injury. 

 

However, injuries can also be a time of renewable, rehabilitation, and refocus. This shift in mindset is key if you want to preserve your mental health while sidelined by an injury. Finding ways to fill your time without aggravating your symptoms can even be enjoyable, as you finally have time to pursue other interests and hobbies that take your mind away from performance. 

Maintaining Your Wellbeing

Taking care of your mental health and well-being is key when you’re out with an injury. It’s all too easy to spiral when you are unable to participate in your sport and are out of your usual routine. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools in place today to help you take care of your mental health while injured, including: 

 

  • Specialist care: Seeing a specialist removes doubt of misdiagnosis and helps you receive expert advice. You can also consult with recovery specialists, like sleep specialists and physical therapists who focus on rebuilding range of motion. 
  • Expression: Use a journal or a scrapbook to express your emotions and come to terms with your injury. Even a simple doodle can help improve your mental health and help you accept your current condition. 
  • Goals: Setting goals related to recovery can be hugely motivating. For example, if you’re recovering from a sprained ankle, you might set a realistic goal with the aid of your PT like “I will run a 25-minute 5K in 3 months time”. 
  • Connect with support: Speaking to a trained therapist can alleviate your fears and help you find mindfulness exercises that work. Professional counseling is particularly important if you’ve been through a traumatic injury and need to process the event. 

 

Finding ways to manage your mental health and promote better well-being is crucial when recovering from an injury. Even simple acts, like journaling or light stretching, can improve your wellness and help you see life’s silver linings. Taking care of your wellness can help you foster an interest in other hobbies while your body recovers, too. 

Finding New Hobbies 

If you’re an amateur athlete or hobbyist sportsperson, you likely spend much of your free time honing your craft and perfecting your technique. As such, it’s easy to feel at a loss when you cannot practice or perform due to injury. Filling your new-found free time while resting is crucial to preserving your mental health and well-being while on the road to recovery. 

 

If possible, look for hobbies that help you reconnect with your community. Social hobbies are extremely valuable when injured, as common emotional responses to injury include sadness and isolation. By joining a book club or a sewing group, you can give your body a chance to heal while engaging with other people in your town or city. 

 

Alternatively, you can consider taking up hobbies that have a relatively steep learning curve. This can give you the mental stimulation you crave as an athlete, as skill-based activities like eSports and needlework give you a clear way to progress while you hone your abilities. Just remember to take regular breaks when gaming or knitting, as you’ll need to stay hydrated and comfortable to recover quickly. 

Recovery Tips

Ideally, you should be working closely with a trained physiotherapist who can help you overcome your injury. They can create a tailored recovery plan and help keep track of your progress. You can support their plan and speed up your progress by utilizing tried and tested healing techniques like: 

 

 

You should also keep yourself properly hydrated at all times. Staying hydrated promotes recovery by lubricating your joints, reducing the risk of infection, and improving the quality of your sleep. Proper hydration also boosts organ function and helps with mental focus. If you feel that you cannot drink enough, start tracking your water drinking habits with apps or bottles that contain useful fill lines. This will motivate you to drink more H20 while reducing the risk of further injury caused by dehydration. 

Conclusion 

Maintaining your mental health while injured is a key part of any successful recovery plan. Rather than trying to go it alone, work with medical professionals who understand your struggles and can help you overcome the challenges you face. They’ll be able to recommend engaging activities that keep your mind occupied and can suggest lifestyle changes that will speed up the recovery process. 

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