In this week's Guest Blog post Kirsten Stratton shares with us some strategies on coping with and returning from injury.
Being injured is rubbish. And when riding is a major part of you, it seems like your life has completely been thrown off track!
DON'T JUST GIVE IN
Watching your goals slip through your fingers can cause the strongest of us to spiral into sadness. But whilst you may feel you've missed your opportunity to reach your goals, know that there is some good to come from bad, there is light at the end of that tunnel!
My injury helped me realise the love and dedication I have for riding, being told I cannot do what I constantly thought about made me want to do it even more. It opened up a whole new passion and made me hungry to succeed. Although I was sad to put my goals on the back burner, it didn't mean that was the end for me.
FACE THE FACTS AND ACT UPON THEM
It's important to understand that when sat thinking about your goals and where you want to be, you have this new baggage that you have to take into consideration what ever type of injury that maybe, so although you shouldn't give up on your goal, you should leave room to accommodate the possibility of taking a different and maybe a slower route to that goal. Or break up the end goal into reachable stepping stones.
PLOT YOUR COMEBACK
Ask your Doctor or consultant for a realistic timeline and what you can and can't do during your recovery process - Be warned, it's not a question they like to hear or want to answer, but be pushy, there is nothing worse than being sat in the dark (literally) not knowing if you had to spend the next 4 weeks in bed, or if you could change the scenery / routine a little.
Once you understand your recovery stages and when you're likely to be back to normal, work on setting your stepping stones. My first stepping stone was to get better to get the go ahead to at least walk on the horse, but also to find that confidence that had been lost amongst the accident and actually be brave enough to get back in the saddle, confidently! Work on a training plan to get yourself / horse fit to the stage it needs to be to complete those stepping stones so that when you have the all clear, there is no messing and your straight back into a proactive routine. Register for a future competition, obviously be mindful and realistic on dates, give your self enough time to get back but don't leave too much room to start slacking, and have the "I'll do it tomorrow attitude" Research actually shows that planning and anticipation can be a happiness booster, which in turn will keep you motivated and on track.
Whilst I say the above, TRUST what the Doctors say
Have ambitions to get back in the saddle yes, but don't rush yourself. I spent many a day on my sofa, in the dark feeling like I could easily go up and muck out, yet as soon as I attempted to run the hoover through the house, I was knackered. The body is amazing. What your body does to fix a problem is amazing. A cold for example, isn't the actual illness, a cold is the bodies reaction to an infection. Throughout recovery your body will focus ALL energy onto getting that one area better. And although I had a problem with my eye, in turn my body was weak and frail, I couldn't do anything in those first few weeks! Be invested into your recovery and make sure you do anything asked to aid your recovery time.
FIND OTHER WAYS TO STAY FOCUSED
I'm currently writing this as I sit on the sofa, after my 3rd operation with a patch over my eye - yes I feel down, yes I'm tired and weak but does that make me want to stop thinking about where I aim to be? NOPE. Writing this makes me want to jump straight in the saddle get back to it, but I know I can't do that, so I'm funnelling my motivation into this and (hopefully) reading this may keep others like me on track through a dull time! Think as your "box rest" time as time to research, time to read and time to learn! (If you can)
WAKE UP CALL? Revisit your priorities
Active people need to do something to work off energy. Being unable to do your favourite activity forces you to get creative! An injury can also be a wake up call, before my injury my riding was a hobby, I was very career driven and had worked full time from leaving college. When I was told I had to take time off work after my first operation I thought I'd be more worried about my career, I mean I was, but just not the career I had! The more I was told about how lucky I was, the lower down my priority list my job got. I am here to live my own life. So why am I doing something I have absolutely NO interest in to pay the bills? Surely there is another way? So, my outlook changed, as did my career! I am still career driven, but I now understand that a balanced lifestyle and family are as important. I am now working towards a lifestyle I want to live, not working for someone else's lifestyle at the top of a IT chain.
Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic tips with us Kirsten. Wishing you a speedy recovery and sending you all our love.
To keep up to date with Kirsten:
- Visit her Blog.
- Find her on Instagram: kirstenstrattonxo and pandorasboxblog
- Facebook: Kirsten Stratton