When pain or injury hits us, especially when it's severe, it's easy to become disconnected from the world around us.
An example might be of the elderly individual whose back pain has resulted in their inability to go out, see their friends or family, or be involved in their community anymore.
Another might be the athlete with the sprained ACL who hasn't been seen by any of the his friends on the team in months.
It could simply be the person who feels depressed in their month not getting to go to the gym while recovering from their muscle strain.
It's the reality; pain can often prevent us from remaining involved in the activity, communities, and social circles that make us part of who we are. And the tragedy is that this social isolation, as well as the often-prevailing depression and anxiety, are correlated closely to the increase of physical pain! Pain increases, depression worsens, pain increase further, and so on in an unfortunate cycle.
But it doesn't have to be this way! We tend to have an all-or-nothing approach to our activities and involvement, often writing our engagements altogether due to not being able to participate as fully as before. However, this is exactly what leads to that isolation!
Instead, it's crucial to keep individuals in pain involved in the world around them. Whether it's from pain, injury, or illness, we know that greater social support is strongly related to an increased chance of recovery.
With that being said, whether it's you, a friend, or family member, maintaining engagement in social circles is a major factor in recovery. If you're an athlete that sprained your knee, keep coming to practice and involving yourself as much as you can on the sideline. If you're missing out on hitting the trails with your running club, grab coffee with your fellow runners and stay up to date on their going-ons and lives. If your elderly mother hasn't been able to garden or walk with her neighbour, encourage her to have a friend or two to her own home for tea. There's always a way to modify the activity and environment to maintain one's place in the world outside.
Social isolation isn't fun. Add pain to the mix and it can become unbearable. Stay involved, call your friends, and engage in the world rather than let it pass by; you may find that it's what you need to propel yourself back to better health.