Posted in Sport Psychology

The Psychology of Responding to Injury: The Birthday Complex

A common psychological response to injury is what I like to call the “Birthday Syndrome.”

Photo by Akadruid

As kids, our birthdays were the single greatest day of the year. I remember I would start counting down the days about a month before my big day. In fact, I would think so much about my birthday that while I was waiting for it to arrive, I would practically forget to focus on experiencing day to day life! The same is true for athletes when they are faced with an injury that prevents them from participating in their chosen sport for any extended period of time.

Daily rehabilitation is not a priority because their focus is on the day they can return, and getting back to their optimal level of performance.  To prevent this from happening, I recommend being process-focused, which means to engage with each moment. The way that we think impacts how we recover, and there are many simple mental techniques that one can utilize to foster engagement. It’s important to encourage the mentality to focus on what you can control, such as sticking to your rehab schedule, staying positive, and improving meaningful relationships. For instance, working to find ways to better support your teammates is a huge part of sports! A process-focused mentality will improve recovery time and develop mental strength, which will in turn enhance your game in the future. Make every day your “Birthday” and you will find that before you know it, you’re playing again!