It’s natural to experience significant stress, a sense of being overwhelmed, or worries about how to lead your life after stroke. There’s no doubt that you have had your share of tears after stroke. But, getting back on your feet or at least putting your best efforts to do so is important. And, what better time for doing so than New Year. Once you are able to look past your self-pity, focus on the positive opportunities and outcomes, you will be able to rebuild your life even with stroke-led disabilities. Here are 6 ways to start afresh after stroke, this New Year.
Reduce pampering and self-pity and take positive actions. It is important to stand up and take responsibility for good or bad. Block out any insecurity and know that it’s going to be good this year. Perhaps, stroke gave you an opportunity to revisit your eating habits. At least, now you can aim to eat a balanced diet with a focus on foods (such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish) that are proven to be good for the brain.
Develop positive attitude and actions. This will help you accept what is done is done and focus on your stroke rehabilitation program. Having a clear goal of ‘achieving full functionality after stroke’ and determining what you need to do to achieve it will help you feel more confident and optimistic about New Year.
2. Outrun a boring routine.
It’s New Year and has to be the perfect time to outrun monotony. Start a new routine such as performing your stroke rehab exercises at a different time/schedule. This will help you infuse some change in your otherwise monotonous routine. To regain normality in life quickly, avoid oversleeping. Reduce the amount of rest and make your “awake” hours count by stretching your affected hand frequently.
3. Learn new things.
Learning something new and stimulating your mind will help you to enjoy life more. These are good on two fronts in learning something new. By indulging in a new activity (something that suits your current physical abilities), you will increase levels of the positive chemicals (Serotonin and Oxytocin) in the brain and will also be distracted from stress and anxiety. Learning a new skill or activity also challenges your brain, not only keeping present neurons alive but also triggering neurogenesis – the birth of new neurons.
4. Say YES to Music Therapy.
If you have stopped listening to music just because you don’t feel like it, restart. Listening to music is a little bit of magic for the brain, as studies show that music activates lots of brain regions at once that are responsible for attention, memory, verbal, emotion and meaning.
It’s even better for the brain to make music. Many stroke survivors find singing lessons invaluable and surprising as they could still sing even though they lost a lot of words after the stroke. As your body is your instrument when you sing, you tune into your posture and diaphragm. It wakes up your whole body and releases tension to make you feel recharged.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation have been shown to change the structure of the brain for good. While practicing mindfulness (where you live in each moment and accept your thoughts as they come and go rather than try to change them) strengthens the “thinking” part of the brain, Meditation calms and stabilizes the mind. This helps you empty your brain from negative thoughts and start afresh. 10 minutes of meditation every morning could be a good start. It may be hard to focus on anything at first, but gradually you can build it up to 30 minutes of quietness.
6. Keep your focus on yourself.
Do not compare yourself to other stroke survivors. Everybody’s stroke is different. Your journey is your path and yours alone. Focusing on how impaired your physical abilities are after stroke, or how quickly someone recovered from stroke will only make you miserable and self-critical. Rather focus on your stroke rehab and give your 100% best. Don’t let yourself distract from what you want to achieve in life after stroke.
This Blog is contributed by Dr. Deepak Kr. Nain. He is a certified therapist who specializes in the field of rehabilitation. Deepak possesses a clinical expertise in prescribing the best solutions to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).