Adjusting to a new way of life following an injury can be a difficult time for you, and those close to you. We asked our Client Liaison Managers (CLMs) to share some thoughts on things that might help you manage the many changes you may experience after a serious injury.
As health and social care professionals by background, our CLMs understand how medical care and rehabilitation can make a massive difference to someone who’s living with the impact of a serious injury. While our legal experts concentrate on getting justice for our clients, our CLMs role is to focus on helping you access services and support for your rehabilitation and recovery.
When it comes to rehabilitation, everyone has different tasks and individual goals. Some people want to become para-athletes or have big ambitions after experiencing a serious injury, and others want to try to reclaim as normal a life as possible. Our CLMs are here to help people identify their goals and work towards achieving them.
Dealing with loss and change
The period of time immediately after a serious injury is difficult to navigate. Things that used to be easy for you might now be much more difficult to do, or you might need help to do them. Your life might feel like it’s been turned upside down, and it can feel overwhelming at times.
The range of emotions from fear, anger, worry, frustration to sadness and shock can be intense and can affect your relationships, self-identity and your motivation to engage with your rehabilitation and other activities. This is completely normal. With sudden change, it can be hard to adjust.
There will of course be bad days and good days, and we suggest that recognising your losses and grief is important. Grief is a tough process that can’t be avoided, rushed or side-lined, and will hit you in different ways at different times. Seeking support and opening conversations with your family, friends and with your medical and rehabilitation team is key.
Grief isn’t only about losing someone, but also losing things in your own life, including who you were and what you had before you were injured. You might also experience feelings of grief and loss for the plans you had for your future. Part of the grieving process is learning day-by-day how to do things differently, and adjusting to your new life.
Make use of support available to you
From family and friends, to charities that support those with injuries similar to yours, to psychological support, we’ve all learned during the pandemic that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s important to talk and connect with others.
There are many places you can find communities to connect with others. Support is available in forums and groups online, via specialist charities, or by speaking to people at your rehabilitation centre.
Refer to our charity directory to learn more about the organisations that can support you.
Try to maintain good mental and physical health
There’s many strategies that can boost your overall health. Not everything listed below will apply to you – you’ll know what works best for you.
- If you’ve been prescribed exercise, there will likely be many days that you don’t feel like you can be bothered or it’s too painful. However, this is a really important part of your recovery, so it’s important to try to hit your exercise goals or make an effort to work towards them, no matter how small
- There’s lots of evidence that links eating a healthy and varied diet and regular exercise to better recovery after an injury, and improved mental health
- After an injury, it’s normal to experience difficulties with sleep. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, alongside a healthy diet can support better sleep patterns, but if you’re still struggling, get professional advice on how to improve your sleep, which can in turn aid recovery
- Make sure you maintain social connections too, as regularly speaking to your friends and family will help boost your mood. Your friends and family are also probably coming to terms with the change too – it’s beneficial for all of you to keep open communication.
Remember that there’s no timeline
Recovering from your experience and injury isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process, so don’t rush yourself, and be patient with your progress. There’s no point at which you should be “over it” – your timeline and experience is uniquely your own. The important thing is to always keep moving forward, no matter how slowly.
We recommend keeping notes on your progress, so you can look back at how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved already. This can help keep you motivated to continue working on your recovery.
Try to manage the stress in your life
It’s well known that long-term stress has a significant impact on your immune system, and can even manifest into illness. A small amount of stress can actually be a good thing – it can motivate you to work towards your goals, and can boost your overall resilience.
The key thing is to manage your stress and worry. We all experience thoughts that pop into our mind, and they can sometimes be unwelcome and cause us to become anxious. Nobody can stop these thoughts coming into their mind – but what we can do is learn to control what we do with those thoughts. It’s likely you’ve got many worries as a result of your injury, for example your finances, your home, and your relationships. It can be overwhelming, so learning to manage that worry will help make things easier.
Trying to focus on what we can control, rather than things that we can’t control, is a good start. You can acknowledge that an intrusive thought has appeared in your mind, but that doesn’t mean you need to focus on it or dwell on it, if it’s about something you can’t control. A great question you can ask yourself when you are worrying more or have more negative thoughts, is “is this helpful?”. If the answer is no, think about what action you can take so the thought doesn’t get any worse – focus on or do something else, listen to some music, or talk to a friend.
You can also help keep stress levels down by maintaining a clean and organised living space and lifestyle. If you find that you need help doing certain tasks like doing laundry or preparing meals, there are several options available to you. This can include asking friends or family for help, or seeking resources available in your local area that support with independent living. Always take advice from your team who’ll be able to help you.
Here for you
We’re here to support you throughout your recovery journey. Everyone’s experience is unique, and so some of these tips may apply to you more than others. Please speak to your rehabilitation team or doctor for specific advice. If you or a loved one has had a serious injury and needs legal advice and support then we’re here to help. You can learn more about the work our CLMs do and how we can help our clients get access to the best medical care and rehabilitation on our Client Liaison Team page.
For more information on the life-changing impact of serious injuries, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Over the next couple of months we’ll share articles, videos, podcasts, virtual events and more to reflect on the range of areas of your life that a serious injury can impact.