Injuries. They suck.
Well, that’s about it, right?
Kidding … kind of. I know how de-motivating and discouraging suffering from an injury can be, especially as a competitor. Hell, even if you’re not a professional athlete but work out like one, having that taken from you can leave a huge gap in your world.
Staying motivated during the healing process of an injury is something that isn’t talked about too often, which is why I wanted to provide some firsthand tips here.
Keep your head up, and try some of these on for size. They can seriously shift your entire experience.
Staying Motivated While Healing From An Injury
1. Remember That The Healing Process Is Temporary
It’s easy to let yourself get down when you’re in the thick of healing (aka: being restricted from making progress), but one of the greatest motivators is to remember that this process is temporary.
At the end of the day, healing takes time … but viewing that “time” as part of a temporary process can alleviate some of the anxiety we feel about not being in the game.
2. Visualize The Future
Healing from an injury almost always involves more resting hours, which ultimately means more time to think about your injury.
However, instead of focusing on everything that is holding you back while you have to heal, try shifting your focus to what you’ve learned and what strategies you are going to use in the future to strengthen yourself even more, and to make your body even more resilient.
Now, sometimes injuries just happen no matter how “strong” we are, but focusing on how we’re going to improve that strength once we’re healed (perhaps by doing more mobility work, balance training, joint care, etc …) can provide something to look forward to, instead of simply looking at what we’ve “lost” during recovery.
3. Embrace Rest
We’re often so focused on what we’re being kept from while we’re injured (workouts, competitions, and even playtime with kids if you have them), but shifting that focus onto what you can do now that you’re able to rest for a longer period of time can be extremely beneficial.
For instance, you can now focus on all of the “extra” recovery and performance-enhancing tools you may have not had time to do before, like hitting the infrared sauna, trying out some soft martial arts like Tai Chi (if possible), and even finally getting into some of the mindset and personal development books you’ve been meaning to read.
Rest can also be an opportunity, if you begin to focus on what this time allows you to do, versus what it’s hindering you from doing.
4. Stay Involved
Depression is common to experience post-injury (been there), which is why it’s more important than ever before to stay involved in your fitness/MMA community. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean working out or competing of course, but can be as simple as still visiting the gym socially, or even getting involved in other ways by offering to, say, volunteer.
Often, just being in the environment you know you’re going to return to in the future can help you keep your head up. Isolating yourself out of self-pity, even though being injured does suck, will likely result in even more depressive thoughts.
5. Visualize Repair
The mind is a powerful thing. So powerful, in fact, that studies have shown that just by imagining an injury repairing itself, we can possibly speed up our healing. [*]
Take 5 minutes or so out of your day (I find in the morning before I get out of bed works best) to visualize yourself healed and moving your injured area without pain. Really feel what it would feel like to feel healed and free in your body.
This may sound a little “woo,” but the science speaks for itself.
6. Start Something New
If you’ve been wanting to do something outside of training but haven’t had the time to do it … NOW is the time!
Whether you want to do something art related, take a certification course, improve your cooking skills, or learn more about cryptocurrency, starting something new during your downtime will help occupy your mind and help you feel excited again.
7. Prep For Your Return
Personally, I like to prep for my return as a way to stay motivated while healing.
What do I mean by prep? Well, you could focus on gearing up on new equipment and/or apparel and training gear. (And P.S.: If you’re looking for some of the best gloves and other MMA gear on the market, check out my collection here.)
By investing in our return, we can lessen some of the anxiety that comes with “waiting around” for healing to begin.
The bottom line? Again, where you are now is temporary. Change is inevitable, and always working toward our highest good. Focus on what you can do, and look forward to what’s coming.