There is considerable evidence that exercise benefits our mental health. Research suggests that in addition to improving memory, lifting mood, moderating depression, and reducing attention fatigue, exercise is a significant stress reducer.
Whether you are a varsity player, a daily walker, a gym rat or an avid golfer, it is likely that the exercise you do helps you psychologically as well as physically. What happens when you get injured?
In most cases physical injury happens in the two minutes we never see coming. It is physically and psychologically disruptive because it not only involves physical pain and concern about intervention and recovery; it reminds us of the unpredictability of life, and the reality of our vulnerability. For athletes, as well as those determined to exercise, it is a loss that insults our sense of self as well as our sense of mastery.
“ I can’t be injured, we are in the semi-finals. I have to play!”
“ I just got the motivation and the routine going and now I break my ankle?”
“ What will I do if I can’t golf?”
How Do You Proceed?
No matter what anyone says in the first hours, days or week of an injury, it won’t feel right.
“ So You Won’t Run Anymore- You will Do Something Else!”
“ Don’t Worry—You will be back.”
It is difficult to suddenly adjust to the loss of something that has added value to your life and it is also difficult to suddenly believe you will be ok, when you don’t feel ok. But it does get better…
What seems impossible starts to become possible when you realize there are many ways to reduce stress if you are able to focus on healing, open options, risk possibilities, and draw upon your resiliencies.
Five Ways To Reduce Stress
Become Mission Focused
After an athletic injury or an injury that impedes your usual exercise routine, it is to your advantage both physically and psychologically to be mission focused.
Move It Along
When injured, most athletes and those committed to an exercise routine miss the movement, aerobic benefits, and neurochemical surge that come with exercising. Finding a way to move it along might include:
Each injury has introduced me (not by choice) to an alternative exercise routine that I came to value and never dropped.
A one-time runner who resigned himself to walk the dog through the neighborhood was startled by what unfolded between the response of neighbors to the dog and to him.
Take A New Look At Your Old Exercise Routine
Very often after injury, you can miss your old exercise routine. It is worth considering what made it so important to you, so stress reducing, so restorative. It may well have been a function of a number of factors – not just the physical movement of the exercise itself. As such, it is valuable to identify those factors so that you can re-set them into your life–whether you are exercising or not.
A closer look at your favorite exercise routine expands stress reduction into many dimensions.
Work on a Different Goal
Re-Open Your Drawer of Resiliency Traits
A valuable source of stress reduction that we often overlook can be found in the consideration of our own resiliency traits. Be it intelligence, creativity, social skills, spirituality, musicality, artistic ability, love of nature or culinary creations—any of these can be used as entrée to activities and relationships that refuel us, validate our talents and heal in many ways.
The Gift of A New Worldview
It is difficult to journey from our necessary illusion of control and body mastery through injury, disruption, stress and healing without personally changing.
For many, the change is beyond physical and psychological restoration.
It is a sense of humility for what we can and cannot control and a sense of gratitude for what we can.
It is a respect and appreciation for those whose suffering persists.
It is the gift of a worldview that you can rarely find in easy places.
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Last reviewed: 22 Mar 2013