How to Live Well During Injury Recovery Despite the Pain?

When someone is injured or managing pain they often do not feel like themselves.  They cannot do the activities they once did, cannot participate in the same type of social events, and/or have trouble working and completing daily activities.  These life changes often leave people both physically and mentally exhausted and discouraged, making recovery and pain reduction very challenging.

Striving to live well is so important during recovery, but how can someone achieve wellness while dealing with so many challenges?  According to Hettler’s Six Dimensions of Wellness, living well comes from an integrated approach that actively focuses on six aspects of wellness – physical, emotional, occupational, social, intellectual, and spiritual.

What do these aspects of wellness really mean, and how can they be applied to those people who are actively recovering from injury or trying to reduce pain?

Physical Wellness is all about maintaining health through physical activity, good nutrition, sleep, and other healthy habits.

So how can you focus on being physically well, when you are injured or in pain?

Think about a more holistic view of your body.  Are there new or different ways that you can stay active?  Maybe you can focus on making healthier eating choices? Can you find ways to better adhere to your recovery program?  All of these things could make you feel more physically well, even if you are in pain.

Emotional Wellness is all about recognizing, assessing, and managing feelings and behaviors.

Being injured or managing pain often triggers a mix of emotions – sadness, depression, loneliness, despair – which is understandable. So how does one deal with and manage these emotions effectively?

Find ways to keep track of emotions, share your feelings with others, and try to think optimistically even if just for a couple of moments each day.

Occupational Wellness is all about utilizing skills to contribute to society in a way that makes a person feel satisfied.

Often when people are injured or in pain, work suffers.  So how can you find occupational wellness when have to work less or cannot work at all?

Find ways to share skills in a new way, explore a side project, or share your voice via a blog or social media.

Social Wellness is all about community contributions and positive connections and interactions with others.

Those suffering from pain or injury are often limited when it comes to social interactions, so how can you stay connected and be social despite those limitations?

Maybe join an online or digital community either about injuries or other interests, research and discover new ways to socialize, and stay connected with friends and family.

Intellectual Wellness  is all about staying mentally challenged and curious.

When someone doesn’t feel physically well, it is hard to face new mental challenges.  So, what are ways to stay intellectually stimulated even when in pain?

Try something (anything) new, take a class, find interesting things to read.

Spiritual Wellness is all about focusing on a bigger picture view of life and acceptance of that which is not understood.

Finding the meaning of life and determining values is difficult regardless of if you are injured or not.  Since spirituality and values are so unique to each individual, these suggestions are very general:

Make time to think about what spirituality means to you, and try to stay consistent with your values even when faced with the challenges of injury recovery.

According to Hettler, the key to wellness is working towards all six aspects of wellness concurrently in order to feel happier and healthier.  

And remember, even when you not feeling physically well, there are many other ways to try to live well.

Please direct any comments or questions to and visit to see what we are building to make injury recovery better and easier for everyone.

Check back on the blog for a more detailed look at each type of wellness over the next six weeks.

**Note: these are my own interpretations of Hettler’s model and are based on my own experience during injury recovery.**

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