Hi readers! I hope you’re staying safe and well amidst the pandemic. Well, here we are! 28 days post-op, and let me tell you it has been a journey so far. For the first ten days, I was completely bed-ridden. Getting out of bed only to complete simple, daily-living tasks that took every ounce of strength I had; and the pain I was experiencing was unlike anything I encountered in the many surgeries previous to this. Today I am stronger. The pain is better managed, and I am feeling much more like myself.
Last week I polled my social media audience and a question that was asked more than once was “how do you remain positive during recovery?” That very question inspired today’s post. First, let me say that I am human. I am not positive 100% of the time. That is simply not realistic. However, I have discovered what helps me most, and that is what I want to share with you. These are my five tips for maintaining a positive outlook during hardship.
- Accept that not every day will be a perfect one- This particular tip is the one I struggle most with. I am a perfectionist, and I am also impatient. What a bad combination. Too often I find myself getting frustrated that the road to recovery is not linear, and it can vary greatly day by day. On Friday I experienced the least amount of pain since the surgery, and I had the energy that I believed could only be found at the bottom of an energy drink. Last night, however, I could not get comfortable no matter what I did, and my productivity went down by a considerable amount. I also took my first fall (which thankfully was not catastrophic or harming). An easier said than done way to help support my positive attitude during recovery is to recognize that I cannot achieve perfection and that a day should not be defined by the struggles you faced that day.
- Set achievable goals– There is nothing like the frustration that comes with a mission that seems impossible or a goal that seems unattainable. A large part of healthy accountable during recovery is to set a new, daily goal- something to work towards, but that is within your means to do. For example, if my goal today was: walk up the stairs by the end of the day, I have already failed. Not because my heart, will, and determination isn’t there, rather that it is not realistic to where I am in terms of my recovery today. I can weight bare enough to complete transfers, but my knee is not yet strong enough, or flexible enough to encourage or support walking. Therefore, I would have failed by many standards. Recognizing your abilities, understanding your limitations, and working towards a goal within those as your framework is of utmost importance.
- Embrace your humanity- Over the years I have noticed that I tend to focus too much on what I am trying to do, and less so on nurturing my soul. For example, when I fell over yesterday I was frustrated and embarrassed. A decade ago, that would have been an all too powering blow to my self-worth. I would have been angry at myself and shut down. Now, many years later, I allowed myself to feel the very emotions that reared their heads: embarrassed, scared, and frustrated. I gave myself the time I needed to identify them, feel them, embrace them, and finally, set them free. Instead of being a prisoner to my emotions, I embraced them and allowed them to stand alongside (metaphorically) my achievements. Denying your emotions does not support recovery, but hinders it.
- Lean on your support system(s)- During hardships, many people’s instinct is to shut down and alienate themselves (myself included!) Whether it be friends, family, coworkers, or partners, lean on the people that love you. Challenge the insecurities that may lead you to believe you are a burden. Surround yourself with people who not only want to see you thrive but embrace you in the moments where you need a little more love and care. It is okay. Remember, a moment of vulnerability or weakness does not mean that you are weak!
- Be patient- Easily said, difficultly done. However, I encourage you during hardships to try and be as patient as you can. Your instinct may be to flee, to remove yourself out of these difficult circumstances, but sometimes that is not possible. So, try and be patient. Some of the most important things I have learned in life were taught through difficult circumstances. Looking back, if I was allowed to rush through them, or skip them entirely, I would have missed out on some of the lessons that are such a core part of who I have become. The destination you so desperately seek is there, and I know it may look like a distant blur, but I can assure you, when it’s your time, you will reach that destination. So, be patient, and know that it is okay to take your time.
Whether you are recovering from surgery, processing the unexpected passing of a loved one, or in the midst of trying to re-evaluate your life, the lessons/tips I’ve spoken about can be applied as you see fit. It may not seem easy at the time, but I believe in you, and I am rooting for you!