Wellness Wednesday: How to Stay Emotionally Well During Injury Recovery.

We opened our Wellness Wednesday series last week with an overview of the Six Dimensions of Wellness, and how that model can be applied to injury recovery.  We received some feedback that a deeper dive into each category – physical, emotional, occupational, social, intellectual, and spiritual – would be valuable.

So, today we look at Emotional Wellness, and how to stay emotionally well during injury recovery / while you are managing pain.

What is Emotional Wellness

Being emotionally well, according Hettler’s model, means that you can recognize and accept whatever feelings you are having at a given time or on a given day.  It does not mean you must be happy all the time.  Instead, being emotionally well means that you can recognize when you are maybe depressed, lonely, or energetic and manage those emotions in a positive way.

Being emotionally well means you recognize emotions and manage them in a positive way.

How does the concept of emotional wellness apply to injury recovery and pain management?

Knowing from my own experiences, being injured and in pain often triggers a mix of emotions – sadness, despair, motivation, excitement – many times all within the same day or same hour.  This mix and constant change of emotion makes it hard to consistently manage each emotion and respond effectively.

What are some ways to help you deal with this challenge?  Here are some tips and tricks that I learned along the way as I was recovering from injuries.

Keep Track of Your Emotions. Whether through a care journal, a diary, or a mobile app, keep track of how you are feeling day-to-day.  Naming emotions helps to acknowledge how you are feeling, allows you to look back at your progress, and ultimately has a motivational effect as well.

Share How You are Feeling with Others. Do you have a friend you can discuss your recovery with or a supportive community?  Or maybe finding a mental health professional to speak with would be helpful.  I always found that finding some way to share what I was feeling or what I was going through helped me better understand those feelings and figure out a way to move forward.  You may not always have the answers, but speaking your emotions out loud does help

Think Optimistically.  Even on the worst days try to find something to be optimistic about, even if is is just one or two moments everyday.  Try to find a moment or a time where you can say to yourself, “I am happy” or “I am content” and celebrate that moment.  Maybe it is a small win for your recovery, like bending your knee or walking to the kitchen, or maybe your dog or child did something funny, or even something on TV that made you laugh.

Let us know if these ideas work for you and if you have something that has worked that isn’t listed here please share it!

Wishing you a pain-free and fast recovery!

The Tiyaga Health Team | http://www.tiyagahealth.com |@tiyagahealth on instagram & Twitter


Perseverance Post, Issue #1: Finding Motivation to Get Back on the Horse

Here at Tiyaga Health our goal is to support everyone on their road to injury recovery and part of that support comes from offering tips and tricks to the recovery process. What better way to do so than by sharing the stories and experiences of real people who have struggled with injuries themselves?

We hope you can use these #perseveranceposts as a way to learn from the wisdom of others and maybe find new ways to motivate yourself and manage your recovery.  And to help remember you are not alone in your struggles!


We hope you enjoy our wonderful, first interviewee, Sarah. We have highlighted some of the most inspiring lessons.

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Please introduce yourself.

Hi! I’m a sophomore in college, studying Computer Science. My favorite things include iced coffee, waterfalls, kayaking, and Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets. In my spare time, you can probably find me taking a power nap, binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, or in the student section at a football/basketball game

Please share your injury story.

I was in a horseback riding accident right before my sophomore year of high school. When my horse took off bucking for about 30 seconds, I unfortunately stayed on and suffered immediate pain in my lower back from the jarring of his actions. The doctors weren’t able to diagnose me with one particular thing, but rather just chronic lower back pain due to nerve damage. Thankfully, my pain has gotten a lot better since the incident, but I still have to work at managing it every day

What types of things did you do for recovery?

Over the past four years or so, I have tried SO many different things to try and help my pain – some definitely a bigger success than others. I’ve had two different surgeries: a nerve block and an epidural. Both made my pain worse due to the sensitivity of my back, so we considered options besides surgery. I went through a lot, lot, lot of Physical Therapy! In addition, I also tried Hydrotherapy (basically PT in the pool), Craniosacral Therapy (sort of like a massage), Yoga (specifically Iyengar Yoga – it was more focused on healing than your normal hot yoga class that many people enjoy), and I also did some Hippotherapy (not with real live hippo’s, it’s a form of PT on horseback). Because of the nerve damage and sensitivity of my back, I did a lot of desensitization to help decrease pain when something touched my back. We tried a few different home remedies, like ice, heat, and KT Tape. I was also on a variety of different medicines.

What have you found to be most helpful during your recovery?

cropped-kaboompics_grey-sport-shoes.jpgThe most successful combination for me was a mix of Physical Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, and knowing my body and my limits. I’m not in PT anymore, but I try to incorporate a lot of the exercises I learned into my workouts at the gym. Staying active and keeping my back and core muscles strong have really helped my pain. That goes hand in hand with knowing my body, however. When my injury and pain were really bad at the beginning, a lot of all I did was just lay in bed and rest, which actually kind of made my pain worse. Now, I try to be pretty active (which isn’t too hard in college, given that some of my classes were a 25 minute walk away), but I have to be careful to not push myself too hard, because I’ve also found it’s really easy to “relapse” into more pain when I’ve done too much and not taken any time to rest! Its all about balancing your activity, managing your pain, and doing what works best for you. 

It’s all about balancing your activity, managing your pain, and doing what works best for you.

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of your injury or injury recovery process?

I was forced to pay attention to my body and how I was treating it. I also learned to really, really love to take naps.

What is your top tip for people recovering from physical pain or injuries? 

For anyone who is a student, I know that it can be really hard to be around your peers constantly who are healthy. At the beginning of my injury, I couldn’t even stay at school for more than half of a day, which not only was hard to explain to my friends, but made it hard for me to keep up in classes. But, my high school was excellent about offering accommodations, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It made it easier knowing that my teachers knew what I was going through and were flexible if I had to miss class or a test and would help me catch up! The same goes for in college. I reached out to our support center for those with disabilities, and they were able to provide me with similar accommodations to high school. Don’t be afraid to seek out help and take advantage of it because it can help SO much as a student!

Don’t be afraid to seek out help and take advantage of it…! 

What is your top tip for staying motivated to recover?

I think because of the nature of my injury, I was constantly motivated to recover so that I wasn’t in as much pain constantly. I just wanted to be “normal” again. I was lucky to find a great team of doctors who were always coming up with new ideas to help my recovery. When I started to see even just small improvements, it encouraged me to keep working harder because being in less pain was worth it!

When I started to see even just small improvements, it encouraged me to keep working harder because being in less pain was worth it!

What did you do to stay optimistic about your injury recovery? 

I honestly struggled with this. I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic from the start. However, I had a great support system of my parents and my closest friends who pushed me to become more optimistic. They’re probably the reason I’ve gotten to the point in my recovery where I am today.

cropped-logo-11.pngvisit http://www.tiyagahealth.com to see how we are helping to improve injury recovery.  



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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 info@tiyagahealth.com and visit www.tiyagahealth.com 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.**

What Tools do Patients Need to Optimize Injury Recovery?

A report by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons notes that 1 in 2 Americans (~127 million people) are affected by a musculoskeletal condition – conditions and injuries affecting the bones, joints and muscles. This large patient population necessitates a growing provider network that is supported by many new tech-based solutions. These advancements are undoubtedly improving patient treatment and patient experience; however, since these products are being built for providers, are the voices and needs of patients truly being heard and addressed by these new tools?

Likely, the answer is no. Patients still suffer from many physical and mental challenges during their recovery process. To combat these problems and further improve the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, the role of mental health, behavioral change, and self-management must be further explored and implemented.  Patients must be empowered with tools that encourage motivation and positivity, and that help them stay on top of their treatment plan; and those tools need to be available electronically.

Injury Recovery Infograph

Written by: Rachel Soper Sanders, CEO & Founder at Tiyaga Health