Mindfulness Tips for Injury Recovery
After sustaining injuries in a sudden accident, the road to recovery can be fraught with challenges. During the recovery process, injured accident victims often face painful physical symptoms. Adjusting to increased levels of pain, discomfort, and limited range of motion can be extremely difficult and disheartening.
It is easy for injured people to fall into negative, even destructive mental health traps. Coping with the hard daily realities of life after an accident can lead injured people to lose motivation, withdraw socially, and try numbing their pain with harmful habits such as overeating or substance abuse. In these situations, accident victims suffering from debilitating physical injuries can also develop secondary disabilities related to their mental health.
If an accident victim’s injuries prevent them from returning to the workplace or performing the duties of their job from home, anxieties over financial uncertainty may lead to additional stress. Tackling these issues may seem like an impossible task for injured accident survivors, especially if their quality of life has been significantly impacted by their injuries.
In Ontario, the rates of both mental health diagnoses and, unfortunately, suicide is substantially higher for injured accident survivors than people unaffected by sudden, unintentional injuries. If you or someone you know is currently in crisis, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, visit your nearest hospital, or call 911.
After sustaining serious injuries, it is important for accident survivors to stay mindful of their mental health, and take their emotional recovery as seriously as they do their physical recovery. Of course, juggling physical, mental, emotional, and financial challenges in the aftermath of a debilitating accident can seem overwhelming. However, with the assistance of medical practitioners, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, and personal injury lawyers, injured accident survivors may be able to build a support system of professionals working to ensure they thrive post-injury.
The psychological tolls an injury can take are often more debilitating than the physical injury itself. That is why, in addition to seeking professional support, regularly practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation may be beneficial to people who have sustained serious injuries. As surprising as it may sound, regular breathing exercises can help people develop a deeper awareness of their current physical and mental condition. By cultivating this awareness, injured people may even be able to decrease their level of physical pain and maintain balanced mental health.
Mindfulness is, in no way, a catch-all solution to overcoming physical and psychological trauma. However, for those who find themselves developing warning signs of serious mental health issues like depression, or lacking the motivation to stick with their regimen of physical therapy, integrating these techniques into their treatment plan may help to fuel a more positive recovery process.
What is Mindfulness and How Does it Work?
Living with a cluttered mind can be draining. And yet, many people cannot help over-thinking, daydreaming, trying to work out problems in their heads, obsessing over past mistakes, or giving attention to negative thoughts. This may be the case for many injured accident survivors, especially those with limited mobility who have no choice but to spend time alone with their physical pains and destructive thoughts.
Mindfulness is a kind of meditation technique that encourages people to focus on what they are feeling in the moment without judgment. The components of this meditation technique include breathing exercises and guided imagery to relax the body and reduce stress.
Along with certain pain researchers and neuroscientists, proponents of mindfulness assert that people’s perception of their injuries can have a stronger influence on the degree of pain they experience than the actual damage they have endured. Through mindful mental adjustments, injured accident victims may be able to develop a more tolerable relationship with the physical pain through which they are suffering.
The brain has a great deal of power over the amount of pain we feel. By cultivating a deeper awareness of physical pain through mindfulness meditation, injured accident survivors may be able to change their perception of their physical discomfort while simultaneously calming their nervous systems.
Mindfulness meditation is often recommended by psychotherapists or social workers to assist patients suffering from mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. Injured accident survivors exhibiting the symptoms of these conditions, or those who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their sudden accident may find the practice beneficial for their mental health.
However, it should be noted that this practice may not be useful for those who have suffered acute trauma. Although focusing on your breath for sustained periods of time may be soothing for some, for others, the experience may be disturbing. When exploring the practice of mindfulness, beginners should start slowly with short periods of practice to monitor their experience, and only after consultation with their mental health professional.
Can Meditating Help Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the leading cause of death and disability for Canadians under the age of 35. Moderate to severe TBIs can result in permanent or prolonged changes to a person’s state of consciousness, awareness, or responsiveness. The serious repercussions of a TBI can be physical, intellectual, emotional, behavioural, and sensory.
Living with a TBI can mean adjusting to major physical changes, including vision loss, hearing loss, and dysphagia. Many people who have sustained TBIs also experience cognitive problems. They may have difficulty with language and have trouble expressing themselves, finding the right words, or understanding others. Other cognitive problems include difficulty concentrating and formulating ideas.
There are many well-documented benefits of mindfulness meditation that may greatly improve the quality of life of people living with a TBI. Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice to develop, however even people new to meditating see benefits within a few short weeks. After establishing a routine that includes regular mindfulness meditation, people with TBIs may experience:
- Improved memory and cognition
- Reduced brain fog
- Increased levels of energy
- Improved mood and outlook
- And more
Additionally, a study made available by the National Library of Medicine suggests that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy reduces symptoms of depression for people living with TBIs.
Other Tips and Resources
Meditation may not be for everyone, and the practical realities of life with an injury may keep accident survivors from pursuing lifestyle adjustments that, until recently, were considered “alternative.” That said, for those suffering from injury-related pain and discomfort, certain behavioural and cognitive changes may help their process of recovery. Some tips to practice throughout your recovery process include:
- Be patient.
- Stay optimistic.
- Listen to your doctor, physical therapist, or other medical professional.
- Stay as active as possible.
- Stick to a daily routine.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol and/or recreational drugs.
- Work on your physical therapy exercises according to your medical professional’s advice.
- Try alternative forms of exercise that work for your condition.
- Keep a list of people or things for which you are grateful.
- Speak with a lawyer about options for financial recovery that may be available to you.
If your injury was the result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, an Ontario personal injury lawyer may be able to help you file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Doing so might help you receive financial compensation for the costs you have incurred or will incur as a result of your injury. With the assistance of a lawyer, you may be able to pursue damages for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Attendant Care
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- Pain and suffering, depending on the severity of your TBI
- And possibly more
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers if You Have Been Injured in an Accident
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation. To discuss the circumstances leading to your injury and learn if you are eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers today at 1-800-JUSTICE.