The physical recovery process after an accident looks different for everyone, depending on what happened to them and the injuries they are recovering from as a result.
While the specific physical needs and recovery timeframe will differ from person to person, I know from my experience of seeing many patients in this position that there are common practices which can help.
If you’re at the start of your recovery journey following an accident, I hope that my advice, paired with your specific rehabilitation plans, will help to get you back on your feet and feeling better.
Don’t try to do too much too soon
After an accident, it’s natural to want to get ‘back to normal’ as quickly as possible, but the truth is that physical recovery takes time. You might feel impatient; after all, it’s not your fault that this has happened to you, yet here you are being inconvenienced and struggling.
But it’s important to train yourself to be patient – the circumstances may not feel fair, but recovery will take time, and the best course of action is to try to embrace this and plan for it. If you rush back to normal life – to work, for example – sooner than you’re physically able to, you won’t be as physically strong as before and you can risk creating a setback for yourself.
Having a physical recovery plan, such as a schedule of exercises planned out by a physio, is a great way to keep yourself motivated and keep your recovery on track. Don’t be tempted to think you can speed things up or cut corners; healthcare professionals will advise on a timeframe based on their expert medical opinion, so take their advice, take your time and remember that you will get there.
Keep focused and don’t give up
Everyone’s recovery journey looks different, and some may take longer than others. When the road ahead is uncertain and long, it is natural to feel yourself losing focus.
Try to fight this; breaking your recovery down into smaller, achievable goals is a classic way to keep yourself motivated. Set yourself some realistic goals, try to be kind to yourself when you have a bad day, and whatever happens, keep going.
Don’t underestimate the benefit of rest
Healing and recovering after an accident can be physically and mentally draining. Physical activities like walking and climbing up the stairs, which you will have taken for granted before, can take on a new level of exertion and effort.
This is why rest is such an important part of your recuperation. Try to establish a good sleeping pattern which helps you to feel refreshed; challenges can be even harder to take on if you’re feeling ill tempered and exhausted.
Don’t neglect your mental recovery too
While so much attention is given to the physical recovery, the mental recovery is often overlooked. Don’t make this mistake – just because the mental struggles cannot be seen, it does not mean that they are not real. Often I see people in my surgery who are experiencing negative feelings about their accident and injury, and they’re so relieved when I tell them “that’s normal”.
So don’t feel afraid or ashamed if you’re struggling mentally – it’s only by sharing their feelings with me that I can do anything to help my patients. Don’t neglect your mind in the recovery process; it can sometimes take a bit of courage to come into a GP’s office and voice your feelings, but don’t be afraid. GPs are here to help you with problems like this.
Talking is key when it comes to mental recovery – whether that is to your GP, your spouse or partner, a trusted relative or close friend. You can also help your mental recovery by dedicating some time and focus to it – gentle exercise might help to clear your mind, while breathing exercises might work for others. Everyone is different, so find what works for you and do it regularly to help build up your mental strength.
Recognise the signs of relapse
If you’re frustrated with your recovery, recognise in yourself the signs of this frustration and try to set yourself back on track. You might be feeling irritated, withdrawn and disinterested; it could be that you’re drinking more than usual, which is escapist behaviour.
But a positive mental attitude is vital to keeping your physical recovery on track, so try and keep your mindset in the right place. Treat setbacks in the right way – by acknowledging and addressing them – and they are easier to move on from.
Stock Photo via Africa Studio / Shutterstock