You know the saying “keep on the sunny side of life”? Well when it comes to recovery, it’s actually true.
Dealing with the physical repercussions of an injury is hard. Your daily function is compromised, you occasionally find yourself removed from hobbies you love, and the continuation of pain, day in and day out, can be stress inducing. While some mild anxiety about when things will get better, or depression about the state of your recovery can be normal, managing your mental health is just as important as the physical when it comes to rehabilitation and recovery.
Multiple studies have shown evidence that a positive attitude can shorten recovery time from serious injury or surgery. While it’s not fully understood how this works, the theory is that the mind’s influence can contribute to the responsiveness of the immune system. Just as optimism can boost immune cell function, pessimism can contribute to a spike in blood pressure and in cortisol (the bad stress hormone) which ultimately has negative impacts on health and inflammation.
This is not say that feeling down about your injury is inappropriate or that you should be grateful to be hurt. It’s more to inspire the idea that the bigger picture matters. That there is value to good days AND bad days and we learn the most from the struggle. That if we can appreciate our body for what it can do, and understand the value of rest and recovery, we can facilitate growth and power to replicate a different outcome in the future recurrences of these down phases.
Remember that while we can’t change the circumstance we’re in, we can change our attitude. Smile. Move a little. Talk to a friend. Meditate. Eat some fruits and vegetables (linked to lower rates of depression). Let’s focus on the growth potential, the big wins for the day, and the lessons we learn at the bottom, so we can rise to the top more knowledgeable and able bodied. And who knows, maybe we’ll get there a little faster.