I first injured myself when I was 13 years old, playing in a soccer game. One moment, I was dribbling towards the goal, the next, I was down on the ground after a loud popping noise, unable to get up. I had two torn ligaments in my right knee, and had to have surgery. My entire lifestyle shifted in one moment—I went from being active on three soccer teams to surfing television channels on the couch.
What I didn’t anticipate or expect was that the injury itself would be small potatoes compared to the amount of emotional pain and anxiety I went through. Inexperienced in coping with change, and unaware of how much I relied on physical activity to release any stress or anxiety, I was now a bottle rocket ready to take flight, and my emotions were over the top and erratic.
I remember wondering how I was going to get through this. Wondering if I would ever be back to my old self again. Wondering if my soccer days were over.
During my recovery phase, a lot of transformation took place. Unable to be physically active, I had to figure out a way to transfer my energy—so I began writing. Even though I was only 13, I learned a much bigger lesson that I’m now able to reflect upon in gratitude.
I wasn't the same soccer player I was prior to the injury. I was more timid from fear of reinjuring myself. As time went on, my passion for the game diminished. But what did birth out of the recovery phase was much more valuable: The discovery that I was creative, and needed an outlet for it.
A few years ago, I reinjured myself right before a magazine shoot—I tripped down some stairs and twisted my knee. The same knee.
Momentarily, flashes of my adolescent self reappeared, and the fears I felt then came rushing back. With added anxiety over weight gain, mental sanity, and my future career path all looming, the injury only exacerbated my distress further.
But history repeats itself for many reasons. Firstly, it repeats to remind you of the lessons once learned and to choose a greater path, and second, to present an opportunity to understand yourself on a deeper level—to choose love instead of fear.
This time, I chose to honor and respect my injury. I chose to trust that my body would not betray me and that it would recover. I even had a deep curiosity to see what else I might discover about myself this time around. Oddly enough, what I learned was the same lesson I learned at 13. I found myself writing again. But this time, I understood that writing truly made me happy.
As hard it as is, try not to get discouraged. Honor your injury and follow these tips to stay sane on your path to recovery!
1. BREATHE THROUGH THE FEAR
When you start to feel yourself panicking, close your eyes and place your hands on your heart. In the heart, there is no fear. In the heart, there is no limitation. Keep your mouth closed, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Make your breaths deep and as long as possible. Now, put your attention to your thoughts and picture them moving out of your head, going down your neck and into your heart. Put all of the attention into your heart and repeat the mantra, “I trust my body, I trust me.” Let this mantra wash away any negative self talk. Repeat it until you start to feel yourself calming down.
2. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE
Remember, injury is usually temporary. To keep from abusing yourself during the healing process, it is essential to envision yourself at the end of this phase. See yourself exactly as you wish to be, look and feel. Visualize yourself happy, healthy, fit and vibrant, and never lose sight of that.
3. ASK YOURSELF: WHAT CAN I DO?
The body is the vehicle that responds to thought patterns. So if you think you can’t do anything, your body will do everything it can to prove that theory to you. Instead of focusing on the injury that is limiting you, start to think about what else your body is capable of doing. If you have a wrist injury, can you still jog? With a knee injury, can you still do push-ups? If you can’t exercise, can you finish a project you have been trying to complete for months? By shifting from the negative to positive, your body will respond and heal much faster and with much more ease.
4. REST AND PAMPER LIKE A CHAMPION
Sometimes we get injured because our body has no other way of telling us that we need to rest! So it literally forces you to stop by creating injury. Don’t fight it, just go with it and go all out with it! Put some rose petals and bubbles in your bath. Before bed, brew some tea and put a face mask on. Read a book by candlelight or learn to meditate. Treat and pamper yourself and don’t hold back! Cherish this time, cherish you, and rest your way back to recovery.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.