I decided to write this piece a few days ago, when five minutes into a run – BOOM – I twisted my ankle, fell to the ground and was unable to get up. A nearby security guard kindly stayed with me until an amazing friend arrived to help me hail a cab home. Being injured is something most of us have dealt with at some point – especially since we lead very active and high-powered lifestyles. Since this experience is particularly fresh to me at the moment (I’m on day #2 post-fall, with my foot wrapped in an Ace bandage and propped on a few pillows), it seems a perfect moment to share some useful tips I’ve learned throughout my 20+ years as a passionate athlete (with her share of setbacks). Depending on your injury and its severity, consulting a medical professional is often necessary; however, in addition, there are things that can be done on a personal level to expedite the healing process. Here are some tips to help you heal faster, stay upbeat and come back stronger than ever.
4 Ways To Heal Faster + Get Setbacks on Your Side
1/ Be Intentional With Your Time. You’re feeling anxious, frustrated and totally bummed out. I hear you. One piece of golden advice I received years ago that has stuck with me is this: Remember to use this new downtime wisely and to consciously let go of any negative feelings about your injury. This can be challenging, since being hurt often forces you to temporarily stop doing something you love (or not to be able to live as you normally would). However, when you’re able to consciously view a setback as an opportunity to re-focus and re-direct your energy, there’s a lot to be gained. Use any extra time you now have to do something you love or to try something new (i.e., playing an instrument, meditating or cross-training). While your body is healing, open yourself to new experiences. As hurt as you may feel – physically and emotionally – slowing down can enrich our lives in new and unexpected ways.
2/ Attitude Is Everything. The more positive you feel, the more quickly you’ll heal. The debate on this one’s over – there’s no doubt that our state of mind affects how we heal. Numerous research studies support the concept of ‘mind over matter’ and reveal that we’re far more capable of recovering from injury and illness when we believe in a positive outcome. Some of us are naturally more optimistic and positive than others and each circumstance is unique; however, across the board, maintaining a positive mindset aids the healing process. This doesn’t mean you’ll always feel happy and encouraged; but it does mean you choose to work on maintaining a positive attitude throughout your healing process.
3/ Practice Active Self-love. Be so consciously full of self-love that you can feel it running through your veins. Our body’s ability to function at a high level is a gift; we often forget this. When it’s taken away, we tend to appreciate what we had a little (or a lot) more. To empower yourself and improve your healing process, pour on the self-love. Stop panicking about the future and everything you need to do that you’re not able to do right now. Think about what you are able to do and embrace your body’s healing process – and the miracle that rest and recovery allow. Be patient, knowing that when your body is ready, you’ll come back stronger, healthier and wiser than ever.
4/ Truly Listen To Your Body. This may sound obvious, but it’s absolutely critical: a close connection with your body is the key to great health. Depending on your injury and diagnosis, you may need to rest completely for a certain period of time; however, the most dangerous period for sports injuries will occur in between your forced rest period and your full recovery. It can be incredibly hard to hold yourself back once you begin to feel better – especially when you’re passionate about an activity you’ve missed. The stronger your body gets, the more tempting it is to push yourself, so it’s critical you pay very close attention to how your body feels each step of the way. (Don’t allow your excitement and self-motivation to distract you from this connection.) You are the best judge of how your body feels, so be honest and patient throughout your recovery, keeping in mind that your goal is to have a complete recovery, as opposed to a period of improvement, followed by a series of setbacks caused by doing too much too soon.
* Song for this moment: “Don’t Let Me Down” (by The Chainsmokers and Daya)