When athletes get hurt, they usually have a lot of thoughts and emotions that start racing through their mind. Common questions injured athletes ask themselves include, “will I ever be the same athlete again?”, or “will I lose my starting spot?”
On top of thoughts like these, athletes often experience emotions like doubt, worry, confusion, anger, and sadness.
After an injury, the doctors and therapists typically do a good job of treating the physical aspects of your injury. However, it is common for the mental aspect of injuries to be mis- managed, or even overlooked altogether.
We need to help the mind recover just like we need to help the body recover. If we don’t help our minds recover from injury then the quality of our recovery suffers, the chances of returning to our sport at the same level of performance (or better) decreases, and our ability to reach our goals is hindered.
I’m Dr. Tim White and I am certified and licensed in both Sports Medicine and Sport Psychology. For over 15 years, I’ve been helping elite athletes who are injured, have had surgery, or need to go through lengthy recovery protocols to fully recover and return to their sport.
Here are three ways athletes can help their mind recover after an injury:
1. Recognize That You Will Go Through BOTH a Physical & Mental Recovery Process.
Make a conscious decision to recover mentally in addition to your physical recovery.
Your mind needs to overcome the thoughts and emotions that come with injury as well as prepare itself to compete in your sport again. White House Sport Psychology specializes in this type of work and has a proven method for supporting injured athletes in this way.
2. Take Time to Work Through the Thoughts & Emotions That Come with Your Injury
A major part of your mental recovery is working through your thoughts and emotions.
Talking to sport psychologists, using tools like writing prompts, and learning skills like focused breathing can help you manage pain, maintain motivation, and improve the quality of your rehab exercises.
Also, you can learn skills like mental imagery and relaxation techniques to help you prepare your mind to compete in your sport again.
3. Embrace Your Current Situation
The third way an athlete can help their mind recover after an injury is by embracing your current situation with a willingness to work within the circumstances of today rather than getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future.
Embracing your current situation is critical to staying focused on the present moment and maximizing the benefit of your rehab activities. It is easy for athletes to get stuck in the past or become overwhelmed with worries about the future.
The more you can focus on your current situation at this very moment in time, the more you can avoid the negative effects of thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
Having an injury, going through surgery, and having to do several months of rehab isn’t something an athlete ever wants to do. But unfortunately it is a normal part of sports.
The more you:
- Recognize and embrace the mental side of your injury,
- Consciously work through your thoughts and emotions,
- And stay in the moment and willingly focus on the reality of your current situation, the better your mind and body will heal and the sooner you can get back to the sport you love.
If you are currently recovering from a sport related injury and want help with the mental aspects of your rehabilitation, click the schedule consultation button and get started today.