When you or one of your loved ones has undergone a surgery or are recovering from a traumatic injury, most of the healing process will take place at home. There may be different factors involved, such as strong prescriptions or mobility issues, but you want to develop a plan to optimize healing. Here are five keys to a good recovery experience.

Follow Doctor Instructions

That seems obvious, but a surprising number of people will become lapse about following their own physician’s directions. This may be especially true if your recovery period takes place over several weeks or months. Your doctor’s instructions are professional advice, not optional precautions. If you or your loved one has been told to avoid lifting heavy weights, climbing stairs, or eating certain foods, then do so. Adhere to prescription recommendations. Careless actions could lead to accidents or ruptures that create more problems, or at best slow the healing process.

Adopt Nutritional Meal Plans

Even if pain or nausea has taken away your appetite, it’s still important to give your body the nutrients it needs for efficient healing. Healthy proteins like fish or lean meat are essential for healthy tissues and maintaining lean muscle. Leafy green and cruciferous vegetables provide a range of vitamins and minerals along with fiber. Eat plenty of raw fruit to get Vitamin C and support your weakened immune system against outside germs. Women in particular might want to include iron in their diet to help recoup red blood cells. Use caution; some “healthy” foods aren’t really good for you.

Keep Follow-Up Appointments

Don’t assume that once surgery is done it’s all a matter of time. Your doctor will set follow-up appointments to be sure your recovery is going well. Don’t forget that much of your healing may taking place internally where you can’t assess it on your own. Your doctor may advise important adjustments such as new medications or dosages you should follow closely. You might also be advised to attend physical therapy or other forms of treatment to ensure the best outcome. Ignoring or second-guessing your doctor is never a smart move. If you feel you need a second opinion, then get it.

Don’t Tough Out the Pain

Nobody wants to be a burden, but if you’re in too much pain, but sure to let your doctor know. Pain all by itself can be debilitating and leads to heightened stress and depression. If you find the pain hard to deal with, ask a loved one to help out with chores. You might also try at-home techniques for pain relief. Energy healing training, for instance, will teach you an ancient form of therapeutic massage that’s proven very useful to modern medicine in easing discomfort. If you or your loved one become proficient at this, you can help each other heal faster and feel more comfortable for years to come.

Get Some Exercise

Don’t wait until you’re fully recovered before you start thinking about exercise. You should stay as active as possible from as early as possible in your recovery. If your legs are the focus of your condition, you might still be able to use your upper body for some light calisthenics or dumbbell workouts. As soon as you can walk following your release from the hospital, start walking. Even if it’s just shuffling around the house at first, the idea is to keep the heart pumping to maintain cardiovascular health and improve healing. As your condition improves, add more exercise to your daily activities.

The period of healing following major surgery or injury is one of the most important times to be concerned with your health. You want to be able to achieve not only a rapid, but complete recovery.