Right about this time of year you may be experiencing something called Cabin Fever. Cabin Fever is defined by Dictionary.com as “a state characterized by anxiety, restlessness, and boredom, arising from a prolonged stay in a remote or confined space.”
The effects of injury for an athlete extend far beyond their inability to play the game they love. Being sidelined by a sprain, a tear or worse can impact the athlete's mental resiliency, leading in some cases to depression, isolation, sadness, insomnia and more.
If you or a loved one has been benched due an injury, and is having a tough time coping, we offer these tips to help:
- Speak to someone. Whether it's a friend, parent, coach, teammate, or even your doctor, it's important to talk about how you're feeling to someone you trust - even if you don't necessarily want to. Having someone on your team, so to speak, helps ease the frustration and keeps us from feeling so alone.
- Remember that you're more than the sport you play. As an athlete, being active and playing the game were huge parts of your life, and who you saw yourself to be - it's no wonder then that being sidelined can leave you feeling down and lost. That's why it's important to keep perspective. Trust that you've got a team of people around you working to help you get better, and remember that being an athlete is just one part of who you are.
- Write it down. Venting in a journal is a great, constructive way to deal with all the anger, sadness, and frustration you may be feeling. Write down your recovery goals, and the things you plan to do once you've overcome your injury. Journaling can also help you to put your injury in perspective, and is also a great tool for reminding yourself how you preserved once you're well.
- Focus on recovery to cultivate resilience. It seems obvious to tell a person who's struggling to just think positive, but fighting to maintain a positive outlook, and envisioning yourself getting well, are great tools for overcoming this type of setback. Also, trust in your healthcare team and your support system. There will be good days and bad days, but their commitment is to your recovery, and there's great comfort in that.
- Get help. If the feelings of anxiety and depression won't subside, and you're having trouble coping, don't hesitate to reach out to a professional. There's no shame in recognizing that you're dealing with something really difficult, and a mental health expert is fully equipped with strategies that can help.
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