Physical injuries seem to heal faster than emotional ones. As I write this, many residents of Northeast Florida face a long road ahead to get their homes and offices back to normal after Hurricane Irma.
It is heartening to see neighbors helping neighbors and friends calling to check across town to see if anyone needs help. The utility workers and emergency responders are sharing stories of strangers bringing them cookies, sandwiches, and water as they work to get the city up and running again.
When one of my runners is injured, they sometimes get really frustrated and worry that their hard work and training will slip away while they rest an injured knee or ankle. The same advice I give to my runners will help improve your emotional health as well:
- Use the time to cross-train. There’s always something you can do to move yourself forward. Even if the steps are small and seem insignificant at the time, working other parts of the body can help keep your focus on the positive. For a runner, this might mean swimming; for a person dealing with loss, finding a new way to occupy your time can give you enough forward momentum to keep going.
- Keep in contact with your training buddy. Even if you can’t run, still come out for the group runs. Be a support to the others who are running. This act of community we see again and again in Jacksonville. If you are without power, you can still contribute some muscle to help your neighbor move a broken tree limb; when you experience loss stay active in the community to keep those relationships intact.
- Look for the progress. Track where you were before the injury and the small improvements you are making each day. For a runner, this is an easier metric because you can track time, distance, speed, etc. Getting back to normal can feel impossible if you forget to note the small wins. Today, the power came back. Yesterday, a friend stopped by with freshly baked cookies.
- Find the positive. As parents, we remind our kids to stay positive when things are not going according to plan. In a race, the positive could be we finished, or we met some amazing people. It can be hard to find the positive after a major storm, especially if your home sustained damage or you or a loved one were injured. The important thing to keep in mind is that your current situation is temporary. Focus on the way you can move forward in a stronger and happier way.
Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Option B, has some great advice about how to deal with adversity. She writes, “We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events.” Stay mindful about how you talk and think about your surroundings.