If you’re an active individual, the last thing you may want to think about is what you’ll do if you find yourself suddenly sidelined by an injury. Broken bones, torn tendons and damaged muscles could all keep you from doing what you love for an extended period of time.

Instead of wallowing in pain and misery while your body puts itself back together, consider harnessing the power of positive thinking. It sounds silly, but science has proven that mindfulness and positive thinking can actually help improve your pain tolerance and speed up the rehabilitation process.

With that in mind, here are some tips, tricks and strategies to help you stay positive during your recovery period.

Stay as active as possible

An injury doesn’t necessarily have to sideline you from all of your activities. Take a look at your injury—if you’re a weightlifter, it might be a torn rotator cuff, while if you’re a runner, it might be a torn ACL in your knee. It might sideline you from your favourite activity, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend the next few months sitting on the couch while your body does all the hard work!

Talk to your doctor to see what sort of activities you can do safely. Studies have shown that you can maintain your fitness level, even if you need to change your normal activities.

If you normally run, try swimming, cycling or upper-body strength training. If you normally lift weights, consider some low-impact cardio. Again, talk to your doctor first to make sure you aren’t going to make things worse instead of better.

Don’t wallow in denial

Injured knee with bandage

We all hit that stage after an injury—the self-denial phase, in which you refuse to acknowledge how bad an injury actually is. This always ends up going one of two ways—either you head to the doctor (finally!), or you try to keep exercising in spite of the injury and end up making it worse.

Don’t wallow in denial and don’t, for the love of everything you deem holy, try to exercise if you think you’re injured.

Instead, jump right to the acceptance phase. Accept that you’ve experienced an injury—and that injuries are often a part of fitness—and move forward so you can do what you need to do to heal.

Learn about the healing process

While you’re sidelined, you may need to find something else to occupy your time. Why not spend that time learning how your body is healing?

The human body is a phenomenally complex machine, and when part of it breaks, various systems go to work to repair the damage. If you’ve got a bone fracture, a doctor will splint the break or put it into a cast, but that’s all they’ll do. Everything else is up to your body.

To quickly summarize the healing process, which you can delve into more deeply on your own, collagen will start to collect around the fracture, stabilizing it. Then osteoblasts will start to form new bone cells, and finally, those cells will reshape the broken area into its original form.

Your body will do all of this automatically—you don’t even have to think about it!

Be optimistic

Smiling woman holding tablet

It’s hard to be optimistic while you’re recovering from an injury, but optimism is good for more than just making you feel better while you’re sidelined.

Studies have shown recently that remaining optimistic can help you boost your immune system. For the longest time, researchers thought that optimistic people were simply more likely to take care of their health, but recent studies have proven that it’s actually the act of maintaining a positive attitude that bolsters your immune system.

Final words of encouragement

The best thing you can do to help yourself stay positive during your recovery is to be patient with yourself. You will heal, and as long as you don’t do anything unwise during your recovery, you’ll soon be back to your old self—or you’ll become even stronger than before!

Don’t let an injury discourage you, and don’t give up. Injuries are a part of life, and it’ll take time for you to recover. In the meantime, maintaining a positive attitude won’t only help you feel happier—it can help you recover more quickly as well.

Try meditating, or just being optimistic. You might be surprised by how much better you feel!

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