Home Mental Health How to protect your mental health when recovering from a physical injury (11 tips)

How to protect your mental health when recovering from a physical injury (11 tips)

written by Vidya Sury June 17, 2021
How to protect your mental health when recovering from a physical injury 1

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When there is a physical injury, it’s not just the physical scars that take a toll. As you recover, mental health issues can very well come in the way. Many people who experience major injuries end up dealing with depression. An injury keeps you from your normal activities. You are forced to depend on others for help. The movement you took for granted now becomes embarrassingly difficult. All of this can contribute to the depression.

Canadian research study found an increased risk of mental health issues for at least ten years following injury and the greatest risk was in the year immediately following the injury. Those with serious injuries were three times more likely to be hospitalized for mental health. If the person was already suffering from mental health issues, the injury simply made those worse.

Why do physical injuries affect mental health?

  • When in pain, it is difficult to be in a good mood. And if you were an active person, you feel miserable about being confined to your bed.
  • Your daily routine goes for a toss. If you have anger issues, this disruption can trigger you even more, distancing you from those you are close to. There is a very good chance of boredom leading to negative thinking, which further triggers depression. Then there is the feeling of isolation.
  • You feel helpless because you have to depend on others for things you did for yourself.

How to protect your mental health when recovering from a physical injury?

11 tips to protect your mental health while recovering from a physical injury


1. Work on Adapting to the Recovery Stage

The first thing you’ll need to do is get used to your new lifestyle. There are lots of ways in which you can do this. But simply accepting the situation and looking for positives is generally the easiest approach to take. Look at it as a chance to do other things and focus your attention on tasks that you maybe wouldn’t ordinarily focus on.

2.Ensure the Physical Ailments Are Treated Professionally

It’s also important to make sure that you’re doing everything necessary to have your injury treated by the right professionals. Listen to what they’re telling you and be sure to take the necessary time to recover. If you carry on with life without taking any of the necessary precautions, you will only prolong your recovery.

3. Look for Healthy Coping Mechanisms

When you’re struggling with your mental health it is easy to turn to alcohol and drugs for relief. But that ultimately puts a bigger strain on your health. Instead of unhealthy methods of coping, as tempting as they might be, spend time with people who care for you. Maintain a regular routine for exercise, sleep and eating. Try and involve yourself in activities you enjoy.

4. Set Realistic Goals and Milestones

By setting realistic goals and milestones, you’ll find it easier to be positive about your progress. It’s easy to be dragged down if the recovery process is long. But when you see yourself regularly hitting milestones and making progress, you’ll feel motivated to keep going.

5. Pay attention to your body

Initially it is easy to brush off any symptoms of depression or anxiety after a major accident simply because it seems natural especially since you’ve just gone through all that trauma. But do pay attention if you feel the following:

  • Anxiety and anger
  • Difficulty focusing on stuff
  • Struggling to stop thinking about your injury

These feelings are likely to be there for a while and interfere with your routine.  Often, this can manifest as constant worry, a feeling of sadness or fear, crying, finding it hard to think clearly, rage, trouble sleeping, etc. The accident experience may play in a loop in your head. You may experience headaches, fatigue, palpitations, excessive sweating, nervousness and stomach pain.

Keep track of how you feel and get help. Talk to your doctor who may prescribe medication or suggest psychotherapy. Studies show that psychological interventions can improve the healing process. The better your self-esteem and moods, the faster you will recover.

6. Make Sure to Get Enough Rest

If you are worrying about missing work during your recovery, remember that allowing yourself to rest is not wasting time. Don’t feel guilty about not being busy. This will allow you to heal properly. Spend time catching up on all those shows you always meant to watch, books you meant to read, movies you wanted to watch. And make sure you watch some comedy.

7. Focus On Helping Yourself Recover

While you may not be able to control the length of time you need to recover, you can certainly do the things that you need to recover.  This includes eating healthy, fueling your body with the right nutrients, getting enough sleep and if recommended by your doctor, keeping your physiotherapy appointments. All of this will help you feel physically and emotionally much better.  Stay optimistic and visualize a healthy you.

8. Practice Meditation and relaxation techniques

Studies prove that meditation benefits mental health. While this might take some practice the good news is you now have the time to do it. Pick a time of day that is convenient to you and make it a part of your daily routine. Start by sitting still and focusing your mind on your breath. This will calm the nervous system, relieve stress and help you heal.

Consider other tools of wellbeing such as mindfulness, self-compassion, visualization, etc.

9. Maintain a journal

One of the best ways to clear your mind is by journaling. It keeps you from feeling overwhelmed with your thoughts. Just pour your thoughts on paper—or in a digital journal.

10. Keep in touch with your friends

Just because you are stuck at home recovering does not mean your only entertainment has to be binge-watching shows on your laptop. Even if you can’t go out physically you can certainly keep in touch with friends and family via phone calls, video calling and texts.

11. Get the Assistance You Need

You owe it to yourself to make sure that you get the help you need. If someone was responsible for your injury consider getting help from the best lawyers for personal injury cases rather than trying to navigate that process alone. It takes a lot of the pressure off of your shoulders.

Since physical injury is visible, it is easy to see when you need attention. But make mental health your priority too as you recover from a physical injury. Don’t feel bad to acknowledge that physical injury can take its toll mentally as well. It is perfectly natural to be upset.  Be proactive about your mental health. You will get better and get back your strength.

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