Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Mood!
5 Strategies To Boost Your Spirits And Heal Faster When You've Been Sidelined By A Fitness Injury
At age 51, Karen Stevens was the healthiest she'd ever been in her adult life. Over the past several years, she'd traded smoking for a steady gym habit. Working her way from two weekly strength-training classes to four, she now saw toned muscles she'd never thought she would have. And she felt great: "Once you get into a routine and see changes happening to your body, it's cathartic and invigorating," says Stevens, who was single and living in Los Angeles at the time.
Another positive: She met a man who shared her interest in an active lifestyle. On a ski weekend with him at Mammoth Lakes in northeastern California, she took a turn too slowly and her ski got stuck in the snow. Stevens fell down hard, tearing a meniscus and two tendons in her knee. After returning to LA and having surgery a month later, she was sent home with instructions to have 4 months of physical therapy and take 3 to 4 months off from working out. While she anticipated the pain that came with healing from the injury and surgery, the downward emotional spiral she fell into shocked her. "I would start crying for no reason," she says. "I was frustrated, depressed, and needy, which affected my relationships." The romance crumbled, along with her self-confidence. (Here are 10 things no one tells you about getting a knee replacement.)
Stevens's reaction is common among those who enjoy staying active. "Injuries can take a big toll on your psyche," says Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "So much of how we feel about ourselves and our bodies, the way we approach our lives, and how we deal with stress is wrapped up in our ability to be active."
MORE:10 Little Things Connected Couples Do
The injuries themselves are common, too: In one study of previously sedentary adults over age 60 who began a fitness program, more than 1 in 10 sustained an injury within the first year. Die-hard fitness devotees are also at risk of overuse injuries like tennis elbow, runner's knee, andshin splints. In fact, up to 75% of long-distance runners report an injury every year.
For complete healing, Metzl and other experts say, rehab should involve more than just the body. In fact, healing your psyche's wounds can help you get back to your workouts sooner. "Your ability to adjust, or regain what we'll call emotional flexibility, is a factor in how fast you recover," says psychologist Uri Heller, director of health intelligence at GhFITLAB, a personal training facility in Chicago.
If you've suffered a fitness injury, don't just rely on rest, ice, and a bottle of ibuprofen. Watch out for these five common mental roadblocks that can turn your workout hiatus into an emotional minefield. Then use our expert-backed advice to ensure a happier—and possibly even faster—recovery.
MENTAL ROADBLOCK #1: Your mood sinks.
As many as 1 in 4 injured athletes develop symptoms of depression, according to research cited in theJournal of Clinical Sport Psychology. In another study, when University of Maryland researchers asked frequent exercisers to stop exercising for 2 weeks, their scores on a negative-mood scale shot up. Exercise produces feel-good brain chemicals, including the neurotransmitter GABA and compounds called endocannabinoids, which produce euphoric feelings, says Paul Arciero, a nutrition and exercise scientist at Skidmore College. When you're sidelined from your go-to workout, levels of these chemicals dwindle and your mood can tank.
FIX IT: Choose a different activity.
"Few injuries require complete rest," Metzl says. If you can't run, you may be able to walk or do yoga. If you're having trouble walking, maybe you can swim or ride a stationary bike. Any aerobic exercise you can do without worsening pain stimulates the production of endocannabinoids. Even three hour-long gentle yoga sessions per week boost levels of GABA enough to ease both depression and anxiety, according to a study in theJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
If a limited workout routine still leaves you feeling blah, try adding meditation, which also boosts GABA levels, Arciero says. When Angela Travaglini, 40, sustained a shoulder injury from her daily yoga practice that made even a simple Child's Pose painful, she spent some time wallowing in self-pity—then turned her mood around by returning to the in-line skating she'd loved as a teen and adding 5 to 15 minutes of meditation to her day. "The combination really helped me stay positive until I could get back to my yoga practice."
MENTAL ROADBLOCK #2: Fears run rampant.
On a sweltering day in July, 43-year-old Lori Cheek took her first-ever Zumba class outdoors in New York City's Union Square Park. During a side shuffle, she turned her leg the wrong way, felt her lower leg tighten, and heard a sickening rip. "In a second, everything changed," she says. Her torn calf muscle hurt so much she thought she would vomit—and her mind filled with visions of hobbling around the city on crutches and regaining the 15 pounds she'd recently lost.
MORE:The 10 Most Painful Conditions
Such apprehension isn't uncommon—or unfounded, Arciero says. After only 48 hours of not exercising, a phenomenon called "detraining" begins to undo your hard work, slowing down the systems your body uses to power your stride, propel your swimming stroke, and burn off fat. Carrier proteins that shuttle energy in the form of glucose to muscles start to move as lethargically as sleep-deprived teenagers, raising your blood sugar levels. Your blood loses its ability to carry oxygen around your body, so you'll feel out of breath with less effort. And your shrinking muscles burn less fat, potentially causing a noticeable change to your body composition within 7 to 10 days—a finding supported by Arciero's research.
FIX IT: Regain control.
While weight gain and fitness losses are common following an injury, they're not inevitable if you take steps to prevent them. Start with your diet: Cut out extra calories from sugars, refined grains, and alcohol and put a priority on protein, which contains the raw ingredients your body needs to repair damaged tissue and rebuild muscle. (The more muscle you can maintain, the more calories you'll burn, even if you don't exercise as much.) Arciero recommends "protein pacing," or consuming 20 to 30 g four to six times throughout the day. Getting more than the government-recommended 0.8 g per kg of body weight (54 g for a 150 lb woman), and spreading it out, ensures you'll never fall short, he says.
In addition, if you're able to move at all, try to do some form of modified exercise. Even doing one workout a week that gets your heart rate up or a session or two of strength training that focuses on the working parts of your body can help you maintain your fitness, Arciero says.
MENTAL ROADBLOCK #3: You miss your tribe.
Whether you participate in a weekly yoga class or a daily walking group, the blend of consistency, sweat, and physical effort often turns otherwise casual relationships into a tight community, says sport psychologist Jeff Brown, author ofThe Runner's Brain. When Stevens quit smoking and started taking workout classes, she gained a new social network. "You know how hard it is to make friends when you're in your 40s and 50s or beyond," she says. "The gym is a commonality—it's a social event." (Here are 5 ways to start a walking group.)
Though hard-forged, those ties can unravel if you withdraw because you can't participate the way you usually do, and that lost connection can have dire consequences for your happiness and health. In a review of 148 studies, people with strong social bonds had a 50% lower risk of dying, compared with those with weak social ties, over an average of 7 1/2 years.
FIX IT: Cultivate community.
A report from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro concluded that injured people who received social support had an easier time rebuilding their confidence and returning to their activities afterward.
After twisting her leg while doing Zumba, Cheek posted a photo of herself and her crutches on social media. The comments she received were full of well wishes and advice she believes helped speed her recovery. (Five weeks after the injury, she was off crutches and nearly back to her regular routine.)
MORE:6 Simple Moves To Ease Sciatica
Brown recommends looking for ways to connect that involve helping others. When San Diego runner Kathleen Lisson, 42, had to bow out of a training program after spraining her ankle on a trail, she volunteered to work the water stations instead. "You get to see all the runners and check in with them and everyone thanks you, so you're a part of the group," she says. And when she could return to running, she had a built-in cheering squad rooting for her.
MENTAL ROADBLOCK #4: Your confidence shakes.
Think of how great you feel when you finally learn a challenging yoga pose, walk a longer distance, or ace a complicated dance step. ThatI did itfeeling carries over into other areas of life, boosting your confidence at work and in relationships. Getting hurt, on the other hand, can instill a feeling of inadequacy that grows each day you find yourself held back, Brown says. In fact, research shows that one of the major side effects of an injury is a reduced belief in your ability to complete tasks and accomplish goals.
And just as the feeling of mastery in the gym translates to real life, so does this sense of defeat. Low self-efficacy has been shown to interfere with healthy behaviors like exercising and eating well, impair your ability to manage some chronic diseases, and even decrease your longevity, according to a study from the University of California, San Francisco.
FIX IT: Get your best self back.
Asking "Why me?" is common after an injury, but self-pity shatters your confidence. Instead, ask "Why?"—not to blame yourself for your aches and pains but to search for the cause. Did you crash on your bike because you were tired and needed more sleep? Did you sustain a walking injury because you have a weak core or hips? Doing research and talking with your doctor can help you get to the root of your problem, Brown says.
MORE:9 Traits Optimists Have In Common
This knowledge can also put you back in control and help you set achievable goals for your recovery, whether you're doing more reps of a strengthening exercise, sleeping more, or meditating for 15 minutes every day. "That allows you to continue to compete against your own performance even if you aren't working out with the same intensity," Brown says. A study by researchers at the University of Wales showed that this goal-focused approach helped people stick with rehab routines.
MENTAL ROADBLOCK #5: You lose a piece of your identity.
If you stick with a routine long enough, your fitness habit transforms from something you do into something you are, as you know if you've ever described yourself as a runner, cyclist, or yogi. That's a good thing, Brown says: It spotlights the strong, confident aspects of your personality and can motivate you to stick with workouts.
Researchers have even developed a tool that measures this sense of self: the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale. People who score highly tend to feel more positive and accomplished when things go well. But when these same people get hurt and have to miss out, either temporarily or permanently, they feel adrift. "You're grieving a loss of part of you," says Carrie Cheadle, author ofOn Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance.
For the first 8 weeks after spraining her ankle during a run, Lisson says, "I couldn't even look at my Facebook feed because it was filled with status updates from local running teams, upcoming races, and running shops." She adds, "It was a painful reminder of the fact that I wasn't able to fully participate in my favorite sport."
FIX IT: Find yourself.
Whether your recovery lasts a few weeks or a serious problem like a joint replacement or car accident causes a permanent shift in your fitness routine, you can ease your feeling of rootlessness by connecting to your underlying motivation, Cheadle says. First ask yourself why you enjoyed your particular sport. If it's because you got a rush each time you crossed a finish line, dig deeper and ask why that's important to you. Eventually, you'll arrive at your core values, such as feeling strong, taking care of yourself and your family, and living fully in each moment. From there, consider other pursuits that might check the same boxes: Could lifting weights also stoke sensations of strength? Could the calmness of yoga help you stay mindful? If you explore what you can do instead of getting stuck in thoughts of what you can't, you just might find a whole new world opening up to you.
What's more, coping with an injury adds a new aspect to your identity. You're more than a walker or a runner, after all. You're also a person who knows what it's like to face adversity and persevere.
Video: 8 ways to instantly pick yourself up (when you are feeling down)
Keeley Hawes interview
How to Keep a Diary and Stick to It
Becca Balearic Love Spring 2012 Makeup Collection
7 Foods that Prevent Prostate Cancer
9 Steps to Help You Lower Your BMI
How to Give a Presentation
How to Add A Screencast To Twitter
How to Open a Boutique
Banana Face Pack For Winter Dry skin
Brand Profile: Blood Brother Menswear
The Ultimate Anti-Aging Routine
6 Tips to Make Waxing Not Hurt Like a Motherfker