When an athlete gets injured in the course of competing in his or her sport, I think we take it for granted that they’ll be out of action for a while. We seem to accept that recovery from physical ailments is a gradual and steady process.
Physiotherapy, rest, and things like heat treatment all play their part in putting an injured athlete back on track. For, of course, competing in a physically demanding sport of some kind is almost certain to result in all kinds of injuries.
I just checked out the Wikipedia page for the champion English long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe, for instance, and it contains no fewer than fourteen uses of the word ‘injury’, one of which came about rather bizarrely, as I’ll explain in a minute.
If we know that physical setbacks take time to right themselves, though, I wonder why you and I don’t always adopt a similar outlook when it comes to recovery from our own emotional knocks?
While I’d never dream of telling most people to ‘snap out of it’ if they were having a hard time, I’m sorry to say there’s one person to whom I don’t always extend the same compassionate kindness.
Even after seven years of diligently recording and tracking my mood, I sometimes stupidly forget that recovery from a significant ‘ding’ almost never happens overnight. And it’s only going to happen in the first place if I remember to give myself the emotional equivalent of the kinds of treatment which can fix physical ailments.
So I guess you and I will do well to accept that we’ll probably always have knock-backs and shabby times, but it will also serve us well to remember that what counts is how we recover from them.
These three maxims help me. Perhaps they’ll also be useful for you?
1. Recovery is almost always a slow and steady process, so please accept this, and don’t lose faith if you’re not suddenly as right as rain again overnight.
2. Be kind to yourself and build ‘recovery activities’ into your day – gentle exercise outdoors, rest, connections with other people and laughter, for example.
3. Remember that you’ve recovered in the past. You will do so again this time, even though it may take a while.
You will do so again. You will.
Finally, oh yes, the unusual circumstances leading up to Paula Radcliffe’s injury in 2000?
Apparently she was kneeling on the floor writing ‘thank you’ letters for wedding presents.