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Stress is a natural feeling of not being able to cope with the demands of a task. This protective feeling requires both physical strength and psychological resilience. Injury recovery is more than physical rehabilitation, it includes mental coping to overcome injury stress.[1] Don’t stress over stress, continue reading to learn how to overcome injury stress!

1. Educate Yourself About Your Injury

The more you know about your injury, the less stress from fear and anxiety you will experience. Learning more about your injury leaves less to worry about. Gaining a greater understanding about your injury helps you feel more confident and in control in your recovery, tackling your injury stress! [2] With the internet there are so many sources to educate yourself on your injury! Check out the other great articles in our Curovate Blog to learn more about your ACL, knee, and hip replacement surgeries. Because injury can be overwhelming it helps to structure your thoughts into some key questions. Here is an example below:

  • What type of injury do I have?
  • What treatments will best help me?
  • What are these treatments doing?
  • What does my physical rehabilitation plan look like?
  • What physical activities am I able to engage in?
  • Are there any physical activities I need to avoid during recovery?
  • What are any warning signs I should look for to prevent further injury?

Never be afraid to ask questions, it is important that you are informed and feel comfortable with your injury and recovery. If you tend to forget your questions by the time you have a chance to take a look on the internet or ask your doctor or physical therapist, try keeping a note on your phone or a piece of paper of all the questions you have. It also can help if you record the answers to your questions in case you forget at a future time.

2. Get Support

Studies have indicated that social support is an important resource in coping with injury stress. Social support enhances psychological recovery through its effect to reduce stress and increasing emotional well being. [3] Often people isolate themselves, feeling as though they have to face the injury alone. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and motivate you through the recovery process. You do not have to face your injury alone, having people to support you can bring comfort during this stressful time.

3. Set Goals

Stress can become so overwhelming you feel defeated, losing any drive to start or continue rehabilitation. Setting goals can help motivate you to rehabilitate! It is important that goal setting is worked into your rehabilitation plan, setting both short and long term goals. Short term goals can help you stay motivated, celebrating the steps you are taking towards reaching your long term goals. Make sure the goals you set are attainable and something you truly care about. You can ask your doctor or physical therapist about your goals to ensure they are attainable and appropriate. Research has shown that people who use goal setting during recovery better followed their rehabilitation program. The same people also experienced higher levels of self-efficacy, in comparison to people who did not use goal setting. [4] Set goals to help overcome debilitating feelings of stress and keep you mentally motivated throughout your recovery journey!

4. Maintain Physical Activity

Modify the physical activities you participate in to keep a physically active lifestyle during recovery. It is important to consult a doctor or physical therapist on the physical activities you engage in to ensure safety. Physical activity is a great intervention for mental health illnesses including stress and depression. [5] Physical activity can act as a form of stress relief, it pumps endorphins, the brain's “feel-good” neurotransmitters. This feeling helps you stay calm, cool, and collected, defeating stress. [6]

5. Laugh

Why do personal trainers not pay rent…? Because they’re squatting! Laughing is a great way to reduce stress. It can help shift negative emotions to a more positive state. It is important to laugh, as funny as this sounds, try to take a few moments before your rehabilitation to laugh, increase your mood, and put yourself in a positive mental state to address your stress and prepare your body to be physically active. Laughing not only helps your mental state to relax, but reduces the tension within your muscles. Muscle tension is experienced through reducing cortisol and adrenaline. So, don’t forget to just take a moment to laugh! [7]

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References

1. Clement D, Granquist MD, Arvinen-barrow MM. Psychosocial aspects of athletic injuries as perceived by athletic trainers. J Athl Train. 2013;48(4):512-21. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-48.3.21

2. Sports Health & Fitness. How to Overcome Anxiety During Your Sports Injury Recovery. Cleveland Clinic. June 2020.

3. Yang J, Schaefer JT, Zhang N, Covassin T, Ding K, Heiden E. Social Support From the Athletic Trainer and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety at Return to Play. Journal of Athletic Training. 2014;49(6):773-779. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-49.3.65.

4. Evans L, Hardy L. Injury Rehabilitation: A Goal-Setting Intervention Study. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2002;73(3):310-319. doi:10.1080/02701367.2002.10609025.

5. Donaghy ME. Exercise can seriously improve your mental health: Fact or fiction? Advances in Physiotherapy. 2007;9(2):76-88. doi:10.1080/14038190701395838.

6. Stress, Stress Reactivity, and Exercise. The Psychology of Exercise. 2016:231-256. doi:10.4324/9781315213026-11.

7. Science News. Anticipating A Laugh Reduces Our Stress Hormones, Study Shows. American Physiological Society. April 2008.