Whilst every individual’s injury and/or disability is very personal to them, there are many similar challenges the (fairly) newly seriously injured or disabled worker must face regardless of the nature of their specific disability. One of the common issues faced by newly seriously injured and/or disabled workers is boredom, monotony, sameness or tedium…
With this article, we’re hoping to help other fairly newly seriously injured and/or disabled workers to understand – perhaps maybe in advance – some of the problems suffered by so many others, and share some tips on how to overcome some of these issues. It is probably only little consolation or comfort, but, then again, just understanding that you (too) are far from alone and the problems you are facing are really not uncommon can be helped a little.
Once people have lost the job they have worked for years due to a serious injury and subsequent disability, they all find out the worst thing about their new state: IT IS BORING!!!!!
Challenges seriously injured workers face – part 1: boredom
I am sure that, like me, you always said there were so many things you wanted to do when you had the time….
Once you become seriously injured and disabled, it becomes difficult to achieve your daily routine. Your physical and/ or mental impairments will prevent you from achieving anything in the efficient manner you once did, let alone do any exciting or even exotic activities you had planned.
Before you got seriously injured and disabled, I bet you always said how much you wish you did not have to work and would just like to have time to relax. You will regret ever saying, let alone thinking, such a thing!
As you will soon discover, your workplace provided you with a lot of (if not all) meaning for your life. The structure of preparing for your work day, undertaking your day’s work, then coming home seemed like a “grind” until you don’t have it anymore. Then, all of a sudden, you have nothing to fill up your day. The days become longer as you don’t have any work activity to fill them. The nights become even longer as your sleep structure will or is often interrupted due to physical/mental injury, pain, and the absence of being tired from your day’s work and your normal activities, incl sport, leisure. You will find that you will not sleep well (unless drug-induced) and will have interrupted sleep. This will include frequent night awakenings and napping during the day with increasing frequency.
Then, one day, you finally make a statement that will amaze even you…. You actually miss the workplace, you miss working, you miss your job! No matter how bad or good the bosses, co-workers, or job were, you were kept busy. People often say life is short. This is not true. If you become disabled, life will seem much longer than you can believe as time passes much slower when you become inactive.
To help with this huge problem, we have some advice, which may be hard to follow: You need to work hard at creating some structure in your life.
You need to make efforts to make sure you get out of bed at a certain time each morning. You will need to watch your diet carefully as you will become less active and are prone to gaining (large) amounts of weight quickly if you are not careful. Your day is no longer filled with work (and leisure) activity and you will have far too much access to food throughout the day, and even night.
You need to develop a daily routine of exercise and mental stimulation. When you suffer from physical disability, exercise can be, of course, difficult. However there is usually always something you can do such as going to the swimming pool and doing some exercises in the water. Often, injured /disabled workers feel ashamed as they are (often) younger than the more elderly crowd which attends such pool exercise ‘sessions’. GET OVER IT. These older folks are there for the same reason: to remain active, make their bodies move, burn calories, and feel alive. Jump in, participate, and, perhaps, make some new friends. You may find out that many of these folks are very interesting and really enjoy interacting with younger people. Your disability is of little consequence since many of them have similar problems.
Make time for daily walks. Note that this is plural. You need to keep moving, even if it is for only short distances. You need to do so on multiple occasions each day. With time, persistence and maintained health, you will be able to tolerate longer distances. Make sure to push yourself each day to a small extent. But never overdo it as you will pay for it afterwards, which will cause you to de-condition further and have to begin the process of building your exercise tolerance all over again.
Go outside every day for at least one hour and sit outdoors, preferably in the sun.
It is equally important to keep your mind active. Try to take time to do things you enjoy and do not let the television become your only friend. Make sure to read at least a newspaper or a portion of a book every day. If you do not have a hobby, it is a good time to start one…you finally have the time. Many hobbies are cheap and easy to pursue and can keep you busy for long stretches of time. Further, sharing your hobbies with family, friends, or other enthusiasts can bring you a great sense of satisfaction.
As a bunch of seriously injured and disabled folks we often joke that due to our conditions, medications, or loss of mental regimen is that we all begin to suffer from CRS (Can’t Remember Sh*t). In your regular disabled life, you will need to learn to keep lists and a calendar, even if you never had to in the past. As you will find, the lack of mental stimulation will result in a slow, but steady diminution of your previous mental abilities!
This all sounds simple in theory. In practice, it will take extraordinary discipline. Over the years, you became very used to the enforced structure of the workweek which reduced your free time enormously. Now, that most of your time is free time, the lack of structure can become your enemy. So, make sure to make lists of things you need to do and keep your schedule. Although you may have become disabled from work, it does not mean you are unable to do some other things. In the end, there are fewer limits than you may have initially thought.
We can only encourage you to try your best and find other meaning in your life other than that provided by work (and pre-injury leisure activities).
PS Don’t you hate it when certain people, media etc refer to injured workers as malingerers out for a free ‘holiday’? In our opinion, not a single person would opt to be injured and, especially, out of work!
Somewhat related article
[Post dictated by WorkcoverVictim and manually transcribed on WCV’s behalf.]