There are a lot of ways you can sustain an injury. For example, you might be injured in a car accident, you could be injured exercising or playing a sport, or maybe you get hurt while you’re working.
Regardless of how you’re injured, many people think about the physical elements of their recovery, but they pay less attention to the mental aspects of injury recovery.
According to simonlawpc.com, which specializes in personal injury law, emotional distress can be included as part of a personal injury. That’s because of how impactful a physical injury is to your emotional and mental health and well-being.
The following are some things to know about the effects of a physical injury on your mental health.
The Links Between Injuries and Declines in Mental Health
Being physically injured is closely linked to your mental health. Having a serious injury can cause a range of mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Then, this can become a perpetuating cycle. When you have poor mental health, it can negatively affect your injury recovery.
The same is true of chronic illnesses
After you’re hurt, there are a number of reasons your mental health can then begin to decline or suffer.
For example, you might have to spend time in a hospital, depending on the severity of the injury. That time can lead to depression or PTSD in and of itself.
In other cases, the impact of an injury on your daily life can lead to most of the mental health problems you experience.
You might feel depressed or isolated if you can’t leave the house during your recovery, or maybe you have to stop working. You could feel like being injured causes you to lose your sense of purpose in your life.
In other cases, a person who’s hurt can develop depression because they worry they’ll never fully recover.
There can be financial considerations too. If you’re hurt and can’t work, you may worry about how you’ll pay your bills or whether you’ll be able to ever return to your old job.
Anytime your life and routine are changed, you can experience psychological reactions.
You might not be able to do the activities you enjoy or be as socially active as you once were.
Even without a diagnosable mental health condition, many people have some level of emotional response to an injury. This can include denial, anger, guilt, or withdrawal.
How Mental Health Affects Rehabilitation
After you’re hurt, you might be told by your health care provider to begin a rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation programs can be an extremely important part of injury recovery, but if you’re experiencing negative mental health, you may be less likely to participate or to fully engage.
You could be experiencing a lack of motivation, for example. You could have a fear of hurting yourself again or worsening your injury, or you could be in denial. You might continue to deny that the injury you’ve sustained is as serious as your medical team tells you it is. You might be feeling a sense of ego or pride that’s not letting you accept the reality of the situation.
Research shows that the mind-body connection has a deep, intrinsic relationship with the speed and rate of recovery from a physical injury. The mind-body connection also plays a large role in how someone is able to return to the functionality levels they had before their injury and how long it takes them.
Injuries Can Mean a Lack of Exercise
There are other ways being hurt affects your mental and emotional well-being even beyond what’s above.
If you’re hurt, you may not be able to exercise or get the level of physical activity you were previously.
Exercise is critical for good mental health.
When you’re exercising, you’re releasing endorphins which help you feel good. It’s a natural antidepressant. If you’re someone who was previously used to being very active and you can suddenly no longer move your body like you once did, that can cause psychological symptoms.
How to Take Care of Your Mental Health When You’re Injured
Protecting your mental and emotional health as you recover from an injury will help you physically as well as spiritually.
The following are some ways you can do that:
- Keep a journal. When you’re injured, you can feel isolated and as if your life has changed, so journal your feelings. You can also journal your physical journey, which can have mental health benefits. If you detail what you’re going through as you recover, when you’re starting to feel like you’re not making progress in your recovery, you can look back at your journal and see you are. You can also identify patterns as far as how your physical sense of well-being connects to your mental health.
- Set small, achievable goals for yourself. If you make your goals too unattainable, you’ll feel frustrated. Small, manageable goals can help you make progress and feel good, and you’ll be happy and get a self-esteem boost when you meet them.
- Focus on the things you can control. For example, you might not be able to control the fact that you’re actually injured, but you can do things like eating a healthy diet and drinking more water during your recovery. You might also be able to find other ways to move your body and get exercise, depending on your injury.
- Meditate for your mental health. Meditating helps you stay present, so you aren’t thinking about the past or the future. You’re just thinking about where you are at the moment. You can also reduce your physical stress by sitting still and engaging in deep breathing.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Your friends and family love you want to help you, so let them.
- Follow your recommended rehab program. This is the best way you can help yourself heal, so don’t underestimate its importance.
Finally, as hard as it is, try to maintain a positive mindset throughout your recovery. Don’t rush yourself, and realize that you will heal, even if it takes time.