How to Recover from an Illness or Injury
There are many things that can happen in our lives that severely impact our health and wellness.
Injuries from a car accident, recovery from a long illness, and recovery from chemotherapy are some examples. Recovering from surgery and procedures are other examples.
What's most important when you're recovering from anything that has a major impact on your physical and mental health is to remember to give yourself time. Recovery always takes time, and rushing it can actually impair your progress and slow down the process.
However, there are certain steps you can take to strengthen your body and take back control of your health after a difficult situation.
Listen To Your Body
One of the most important things to do in any kind of significant recovery is to learn how to listen to what your body is telling you.
Often, we push aside the cues from our bodies and ignore them, but that's not going to help you recover more efficiently.
If you learn to be mindful of the cues your body sends you, you can learn a lot about what you need to be doing to heal.
For example, if you feel a lot more fatigued during a certain part of the day than during any other part, use that time to rest. Don't feel guilty about doing what's right for you.
If certain activities make you feel fatigued, then avoid them.
If other activities feel great, then keep them up.
If you're just starting to adjust to listening to that inner voice that is your body, then start a journal. Write down what you do for several days, what you eat and how you feel. Try to identify patterns that can provide you with insight.
When you've been significantly hurt or very ill, you may be anxious to get back to your normal life. It's fine to have that as a general goal, but you should prioritize the things that are most important to you in your healing journey.
For example, maybe being able to resume your daily walks or runs is something that you really want to prioritize, so you could put more energy toward that and maybe take some energy away from other areas that aren't as important to you.
Life is always about prioritizing, and you'll find a sense of balance that will make you feel happy.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Depending on what you're recovering from, you may have gained or lost weight. For example, if you went through chemo, you may be working toward gaining weight to be healthier. If you were injured in an accident, the lack of physical activity in the days following your injury might have left you heavier than you were previously.
Regardless, your diet should focus on eating nutrient-dense foods. Watch your calorie intake, and when you're choosing what to eat, look for whole foods.
Whole foods are things like lean meats and sources of protein, fruits, and vegetables.
Watch out for low-nutrient foods such as pasta, bread, and packaged items. These are empty calories that will do nothing to fuel your recovery.
Interestingly, there are also certain foods that some people feel help speed-up recovery and healing of all kinds.
One example is bone broth.
Bone broth is made from the bones of cows, chickens, fish, and other animals. It's rich in collagen and amino acids, which serve as the building blocks for protein. Protein is pivotal for healing.
For example, bone broth has glutamic acid that builds and repairs muscle, and glutamine, which helps strengthen the musculoskeletal system.
Bone broth contains glycine that helps repair connective tissue. Glycine also helps maintain healthy red blood cells, and it helps make sure oxygen is properly carried throughout your body.
In general, when you're healing, if possible, make sure you put an emphasis on getting enough protein. Protein is how your body builds and repairs all of its tissues.
If you don't eat meat, spinach, beans, tofu, and nuts are also good protein sources.
In any type of recovery, you need to remain hydrated. You may lose fluids because of vomiting or diarrhea or because of other side effects of your illness or injury.
Along with drinking plenty of water, herbal tea can be a relaxing way to stay hydrated.
Harness the Power of Positivity
Recovery is about your state of mind as much as what you're doing physically.
Be optimistic and focus on your progress, rather than the things you can't change.
Surround yourself with positive people as well.
Find productive ways to manage your stress, and recognize that surviving any serious injury or illness will have psychological and emotional consequences just as much as the physical effects.
You might find that meditation helps you manage your stress, or perhaps joining a support group. Being with friends and family is helpful, and counseling is often something people integrate into their healing protocol.
Be Physically Active
There may be a lot of limitations on how physically active you can be after an injury or illness, but find what you can do within the parameters you're instructed to follow by your health care team.
When you exercise, it can help speed up your recovery and make you feel mentally stronger and better.
You don't have to do extremely strenuous exercise to get the benefits.
For example, walking or swimming are gentle ways to start once again incorporating physical activity into your life.
Don't beat yourself up over it if there are times you don't feel up to exercising, but do what you can do.
Yoga and gentle stretching are also good ways to get back into a routine of regular movement.
Healing is not linear, and you have triumphs and setbacks, so keep that in mind. Do the best you can to take care of your mind and body throughout the process, and challenge yourself without overdoing it.