Many of you know that I suffered a pretty bad concussion and neck injury last year, when a large object came down on my head. What I thought was going to be a few weeks recovery actually turned into 7 months of Physical Therapy due to neck pain and post-concussion syndrome (basically feeling dizzy and nauseous most of the time). Recovery was a very gradual process but happily I have now returned to all of my previous activities and more. Even though I wish this had never happened I believe there is some learning to be gained from every situation. So I thought I would share with you a few of my takeaways so that maybe they can benefit those of you who are also working through recovery from injury or illness. Disclaimer- this is not to be taken as medical advice, just possibly helpful tips based on my own experience.
1. Be patient with yourself. I always thought of myself as strong and resilient, so I became frustrated when recovery wasn’t fast. I kept thinking “I should have recovered by now. I should be stronger. Why can’t I feel better?” The truth is, with injuries like this, you can’t always predict how long it will take. Everyone is different. There are a lot of factors that go into healing, and they are not all within your control. It’s tough to accept this and it sucks. I had to not be so self-critical, and be patient.
2. Move (if you can). With many injuries doctors are encouraging movement, not sitting around. In fact, with my neck, sitting and lying down made me feel worse. I had a fantastic Physical Therapist. Also, I had no idea that there was Physical Therapy for concussions. It’s called Vestibular Rehabilitation and it’s really very interesting. Doing PT helped me feel like I could actually do something to move the healing process forward. Exercising (within the parameters given by my doc and PT)) also helped improve my mood. Talk to your doctor to see if PT is an option and find out what kinds of physical activity are appropriate for your specific situation.
3. Don’t try to be Superwoman/Superman. You most likely will not be able to or shouldn’t) do all the things you usually do, or all the things you think you should be able to do. Ask for help when you need it. Let your loved ones know what you need. Let some things go if you have to - like cooking, shopping, and house cleaning. Trying to do everything or stressing out about not doing everything will not only make you feel bad, but may slow your recovery. Don’t be afraid to back off your usual commitments for a while and say “no” when you need to. Allow yourself to rest.
4. Connect socially. Not just on social media. If you are feeling well enough, have a meal or go for a walk with a friend (depending on your injury), rather than binge-watching Netflix.
5. Do things that make you feel happy. Are there hobbies that you are still able to do? Find some outlets for stress reduction, i.e. taking a nice bath, playing with pets, meditating, or listening to your favorite music. Try to spend some time outside in the sunshine. Keeping a positive mindset when you are recovering can be really difficult. If you find yourself struggling with sad or angry feelings, please seek support from family, friends, or doctors. Illness and injury not only affect physical health, but mental health as well. It’s all connected.
Post-recovery- Get back to healthy routines.
When we are not feeling well, it can be really difficult/impossible to keep up with healthy lifestyle habits. We ate a lot of takeout when I was injured, and even though I was gradually increasing my exercise, it was not nearly up to my usual level. During your illness/injury you may have (understandably) gotten off-track, but once you’re better how do you restart? I know just how challenging it can be to get back to healthy routines following injury or illness, but it can be so much easier if you have someone to help guide and support you.
I have helped several clients plan and set goals for:
• healthy eating and meal preparation practices
• regular physical activity (with clearance from the doc/PT)
• relaxing bedtime routines
• stress-relief strategies
I’d love to help you too! If you’d like to chat more, schedule a free 20 min telephone strategy session with me today. We’ll chat about what’s going on with your health, where you’d like to be, and next steps. I will share more about how my one on one coaching program can help you feel like yourself again and get back to your best energy and health.