How to Deal with an Injury or Physical Setback

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Life is full of unpredictable setbacks, especially when we dive into new or revisited physical activities. And let me tell you, whether it’s a skating mishap like mine that results in tearing hamstring muscles or hitting a frustrating plateau in your fitness journey, these setbacks can really throw a wrench in your plans.

But what if I told you that setbacks aren’t the end, but rather an opportunity for a new beginning? After my rather dramatic faceoff with a rock, I’ve been reflecting on how to pivot when life throws you curveballs. So, I’ve put together some rock-solid strategies for not just surviving these setbacks, but actually thriving in the face of them.

If you’ve been following me, you know that I’m no stranger to the wellness world. I’ve spent years diving into various aspects of physical activity and well-being. And let’s just say, after this recent escapade, I’ve got some fresh insights to share.


Let’s dive into these life-altering tips. I’ve got some advice that’ll not just help you get through it but also thrive during this downtime. 


Navigate Physical Setbacks: The Importance of Attitude and Perspective

We all face physical setbacks at some point, whether it’s an injury, illness, or just plain burnout. I mean, we’re human, right? The first thing to remember is: check your attitude at the door. You might feel like throwing a pity party, but let’s get real; that’s not going to help you heal or move forward. Instead, consider a shift in mindset. Accept that setbacks are an unavoidable part of being active and alive. Instead of sulking or feeling sorry for yourself, try embracing the situation as a part of your journey. Basically, it’s all about saying, “Okay, this happened. Now what?”

Finding Silver Linings During Life’s Challenges

It’s easy to overlook the silver lining when you’re in the thick of a setback. But remember, every challenge brings its own set of opportunities. Like, have you ever noticed that orchids grow in the mud? Exactly. Challenges are your fertile ground for growth. To put it in perspective: I once injured my hamstring, and while it wasn’t fun, it’s far from the end of the world. My dad lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, and even he manages to maintain perspective. He’s alive, he’s met his grandchildren, and he still finds joy in life. If you’re facing a setback, remember: it means you’re alive, and that in itself is pretty phenomenal. Turn your setback into a setup for a strong comeback.


Chalene Johnson quote: "Remember, nothing amazing has ever happened in your life without a challenge. One of the easiest ways to change your attitude is by having some perspective."


Turning Setbacks into Opportunities for Personal Growth

Routine—let’s face it, we love it and we need it. Especially when life throws us a curveball, sticking to a routine can be a lifeline to sanity. It’s tempting to abandon all structure, but that’s often the last thing you should do. For instance, I thrive on a consistent wake-up time and morning routine. Just because I can’t exercise like before doesn’t mean I should skip what grounds me. I recently lost track of my PUSH Journal, and it hit me: that routine made me happy. So, if you’re sidelined for a bit, think about the key elements of your routine that bring you joy. How can you adapt them to your current situation?

Finding Purpose Amidst Life’s Obstacles

Purpose is another biggie. If you’re a routine cleaner and suddenly can’t do that, ask yourself what emotional needs that activity was fulfilling. When I found myself on crutches, working became challenging. But work gives me purpose, so what did I do? Recorded a podcast from bed—no joke. And guess what? It fulfilled that need for productivity and purpose. When physical limitations disrupt your life, get creative! Whether it’s staying in contact with family while on bedrest or finding new ways to channel your productivity, focus on keeping the things that serve a purpose and make you happy. Because when you maintain routine and purpose, you’ll navigate any setback like a pro.


Chalene Johnson quote: "Regardless of your setback, take a look at the pieces of your routine that tend to keep you happy and figure out how you can incorporate them."


Use Physical Setbacks as Leverage to Strengthen Other Areas

We often hear about the silver lining in setbacks, but let’s dig into that, shall we? A physical setback is a drag, but it’s also an unexpected opportunity. Maybe you can’t work on your leg strength, but what about your upper body or core? And let’s not forget the mental and spiritual aspects of strength. Personally, my faith grounds me in the belief that setbacks are opportunities in disguise. So, whether it’s doubling down on your meditation routine, reading that book you’ve been ignoring, or even strengthening your emotional bonds, now’s the time.

Capitalizing on Extra Time During Periods of Limitation

And let’s talk time. With physical limitations, suddenly there’s a lot of it! Instead of filling it with pity parties or Netflix binges (though, a little binge-watching never hurt anyone), why not use it to focus on other avenues of self-improvement? Get excited about this unique chance to level up mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Basically, when life hands you crutches, don’t just use them to hobble around—use them to prop open doors to new opportunities.


Chalene Johnson quote: "Treat your healing like it's your job"


Ditching Deadlines During Setbacks for a More Proactive Approach

When you’re dealing with a physical setback, the urge to set a recovery deadline can be strong. Maybe you’ve got a major event coming up, like a fitness summit, and you’re anxious to get back in top shape. Here’s the rub: setting unrealistic timelines can bring unnecessary stress, especially when healing is largely beyond your control. However, not having control over the timeline doesn’t mean you’re completely powerless. It’s crucial to tackle your healing journey like it’s your full-time job, from researching best practices to focusing on nutrition and sleep.

Healing Through Holistic Measures After Setbacks

Being proactive about your healing doesn’t just apply to physical setbacks; emotional traumas can also knock the wind out of your sails. The good news is, you can amplify your healing through a range of approaches. Want to speed up the process? Consider different treatment options, be it traditional or alternative therapies. It’s not just about letting time do its thing; it’s about taking a hands-on approach to your own recovery. Whether it’s following a specific rehabilitation plan or incorporating supplements and nutrition into your routine, be proactive. A more holistic approach to healing will not only ease your physical or emotional pains but will also make you an expert in your own well-being.


The Takeaway: Thriving Through Challenges

I really hope this post sheds some light on how to not only tackle a setback but also to thrive from it. 

Honestly, get excited about the growth and opportunities that come your way! If you’re out here living your life, a physical setback is almost like a rite of passage, and trust me, you’re going to crush it. 


The Chalene Show podcast cover art

If you’re still feel stressed out about an injury, make sure to tune in to episode #299 where I delve deeper into this topic.

You, my friend, are absolutely amazing, and don’t you forget it.


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