How Athletes Cope With Total Rest

Total rest as a result of an injury can be a stressful time for any athlete. In this article, we'll tell you how to cope with it in a positive way and reap the maximum benefits.
How Athletes Cope With Total Rest

Last update: 30 August, 2020

Coping with a period of total rest can be a real challenge for any athlete. It drastically breaks your training routine and obliges you to reduce your movements as much as possible. This can be a stressful situation for both the mind and body. 

The most common reason that an athlete would have to abide by a total rest period is because of an injury. The grade of immobility and length of rest will vary depending on the severity of the injury. However, nearly all athletes have suffered an injury at some point in time that obliges them to reduce their activity.

Although total rest is an undesirable situation for athletes, it can also be a period of growth and personal change. That’s why this article will give you some tips to help you take advantage of total rest.

How to cope with total rest

Despite the fact that during this period your physical activity will be reduced to the maximum, it’s possible and even desirable, to concentrate on your psychological wellbeing. In this way, your rehabilitation process will be shorter and you can resume your training faster.

Total rest: a time to redefine your goals

An injury can upset both your short and long-term goals. Due to this, during your rest period, you should plan your recovery goals and how you’ll return to your routine. These goals should also take into consideration the health professionals’ opinions.

An athlete can set goals for their mental state or small daily goals. However, with regard to their physical recovery, it has to be health professionals who control and establish rehabilitation plans.

On the other hand, a goal outline is a dynamic technique. This means that the proposed goals need to be continuously readjusted and adapted according to your progress and circumstances.

Externalizing your emotions can help you feel better

It’s normal to feel negative emotions when you’re going through a period of absolute rest. You can feel emotions such as guilt, anger, or sadness, and all of these emotions are valid.

Sports psychologist with athlete

Even so, it’s better to confront this time of total rest with a positive attitude. The ability to regulate your emotions is a skill that every athlete needs to have, and it can contribute greatly to their psychological well-being.

A really effective way to bring some emotional calm is to write down or verbalize what you’re feeling. By putting words to your sensations, you help to organize them and make them more controllable. This can help you confront them with a more positive attitude.

Total rest: take advantage of the time to broaden your knowledge

Since total rest prohibits you from working on your body, it’s a great time to take advantage of working on your mind. For example, the internet offers an endless array of resources on any subject that interests you.

In addition, learning about a new topic is a form of distraction. By removing the focal point off your worries and redirecting it to other topics, your psychological woes will diminish. This is why during total rest, it’s not recommended to remain mentally inactive. Keep your mind occupied!

Visualization can be a great ally

Visualization is a psychological technique that brings many benefits. Visualizing consists of mentally creating scenarios and situations as realistically as possible. It’s a technique that requires training in order to dominate it, but once you have, the benefits are immense.

Rest days from the gym

This method positively influences the recovery after an injury. On one hand, it lets you test out and mentally organize the sequences of behavior needed for your rehabilitation. In this way, it can help you control your pain and maintain your motor skills.

Personal growth during total rest is possible

Total rest is an uncomfortable moment for all athletes, but it’s unavoidable and can happen to anyone. Despite the fact that injuries are unavoidable, the attitude with which you confront your recovery is up to you. This attitude plays an important role in your recovery.

Psychological techniques can be a great help during rest periods. It’s during these moments of rest when the athlete and their psychologist should work together.

Not only this, but you also have to keep in mind other health professionals, such as your doctors and physical therapists. Definitively, the rehabilitation of an athlete is a process that requires a multidisciplinary intervention from both physical and mental health professionals. 

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  • Díaz-Ocejo, J., y Mora-Merida, J. A. (2013). Revisión de algunas variables relevantes en el establecimiento de metas deportivas. Anales de Psicología/Annals of Psychology, 29(1), 233-242.