How mindfulness and positivity play a role in recovery

When you experience an injury or an illness, the journey to recovery invariably presents challenges. From discomfort to severe pain, limited range of motion to complete immobility, new or pronounced existing mental health issues, virtually all injuries come with symptoms.1

For many people, negative feelings can crop up during recovery. To cope emotionally, some may withdraw socially or turn to overeating and substance use.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to nurture and maintain a more positive attitude during injury recovery. Many people turn to mindfulness. Here’s why.

Mindfulness increases focus and attention, reduces stress, decreases anxiety, and creates a sense of calm.2 It helps you be more aware of your physical and emotional states. The simplest way to tap into those states is through mindfulness breathing.

Mindfulness breathing brings you to the present. It provides a welcome respite from traumatic thoughts related to the injury and the anxiety of thinking about your post-injury future.3

Here are five exercises that can help.2 Check with your medical professional first and start gently. Jumping in too quickly can trigger feelings of stress.

Breathe mindfully

This exercise places your awareness on your breathing.4 Notice how the belly rises and falls. How the air feels in your nostrils as you inhale and exhale. Your mind will wander, but that’s okay. Don’t judge yourself. Just shift your attention back to your breathing. Keep up the discipline, and you will notice benefits spreading throughout your day.

Counting breaths

Counting breaths interrupts the thought loops that fuel stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. Think of it as a natural distraction.

Breathe deeply

By breathing deeply, you intentionally manipulate your breathing pattern. Called belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, this technique generates a sense of calm by deactivating the body’s stress response and triggering its rest and digest state.5

2/4 Breathing

Extend your exhalation to be roughly double the length of your inhalation. This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which counteracts the stress-induced sympathetic nervous system (SNS).6 Breathing and heart rate slow while blood pressure and metabolic rate decrease. Inhale for two equal counts, then exhale for four equal counts.

Take energizing breaths

When your motivation and energy are low, get invigorated with segmented breathing. Inhale in four equal but separate segments, then exhale in one long, smooth breath. Empty your lungs completely, then repeat three or four times.

Breathe your way to optimism

These techniques can help you nurture and maintain positivity during recovery. Also, develop a routine and make breathing exercises part of it. Eat healthy, limit alcohol and recreational drugs, set achievable goals, and follow your health providers’ recommendations to the letter. Know that Engineers Canada can help with Disability Income Replacement Insurance, which replaces a portion of your income if you become ill or injured and can't work.

Above all, breathe.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, immediately call Health Connect Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, take them to a hospital, or call 911.

How Engineers Canada-sponsored Disability Income Replacement Insurance can help

With Disability Income Replacement Insurance, you’ll receive monthly benefits if you become ill or injured and can’t work. Discover the affordable rates available to you for this important coverage.


1 “Mindfulness Tips For Injury Recovery,” 2023.
2 “Mindfulness Programs,” 2023.
3 “How mindful breathing can change your day (and your life),” July 2021.
4 “5 Mindfulness Breathing Exercises You Can Do Anywhere, Anytime,” November 2022.
5 “7 Ways to Practice Breath Work for Beginners,” June 2022.
6 “The Importance of Practicing Mindfulness in Recovery,” April 2021.