Holidays are clearly the roughest terrain an individual navigates after a stroke. One would be tempted to be in the state of denial or go into hiding. After all, any holiday or special occasion tends to bring up memories of a functional life which is no longer active. However, that does not warrant you to miss all the fun during the holidays.
Being able to enjoy a holiday is essential for life and therefore an important part of life, even after a stroke. Understanding that feeling blue is a normal response to a stroke, it’s important to be aware of your feeling and seek ways to deal with it. Here are a few strategies that can help you find calm in the midst of what can be a physically challenging and emotional season.
Avoid quick fixes
Avoid the temptation to drown your grief in alcohol consumption or the use of sleeping aids. This may only increase your feelings of sadness and minimize your ability to work through your functional limitations after stroke. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling sad about the holidays after stroke. Take it one step at a time, and celebrate the small wins such as getting out of bed without caregiver’s help.
Shift your focus
The second simple thing you can do is alter your focus. It is natural for stroke survivors to be thinking about how things used to be during the holidays and wishing if they could somehow recreate those times. But, this isn’t possible this Christmas. And, wishing for the impossible will leave you feeling both sad and unfulfilled.
Shift your focus when you feel sad. Make an effort by focusing instead on the many blessings you do have. It may take conscious effort at first, but by making a habit of changing your focus, you will be able to bring much more happiness into your world.
Breathe and release tension
This can be through yoga, meditation, or just deep belly breathing. Such relaxation techniques can help bring back a sense of calm and steadiness to help you face the holidays. As you exhale, take a moment to listen to your own thoughts and catch when they are making you feel worse. Challenge negative thoughts by listening to your own wisdom without judgement.
Indulge in healthy habits
Keep in mind there are other ways to gain some control over your life after stroke. Eating healthy and drinking wisely is a good start. Stick to your stroke rehabilitation program. As supported by research, exercising regularly will help you feel better, mentally and physically. Another thing you would like to do is to try to get your proper amount of sleep. Go to bed early enough to get the rest your body needs.
Invite friends over
You may hate missing both the fun parties and the Christmas gatherings. If your friends and family want to find a way to share holiday happiness with you, there is a simple way to make it happen – invite them over. By doing this, you can make the holidays more joyful and stop feeling like you were missing out on all the fun. To make the hosting easier, request your guests to bring their own drinks. People will want to find a way to help and lighten your load as a host.
Hope for the future
Remember, the holidays come every year to be felt fully and happy. You don’t have to be haunted by the pain. There are chances that your sadness over the stroke will never completely disappear. Whatever you experience it, just remember that it cannot take a holiday. By acknowledging the sadness and allowing yourself to stand up against it (rather than bottling your emotions up), you will be able to embrace the holidays, even 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).