Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke. It’s a terrible occurrence that is unfortunately all too common, and recovery from a stroke is an incredibly challenging and difficult journey for both the individual who experienced the stroke and their families and friends. It’s not impossible, however, to start building up your strength again and working your way back to living a normal life. Here are some of the ways you can start regaining autonomy again and start living your best life.
Exercise and being active is one of the most important things you can do for your health regardless of your situation, so it’s all the more important to make time for it after a stroke. If you’ve experienced some loss of movement then this can be all the harder to get back into physical activity, as it can be demotivating to struggle to do things you may have been able to do before.
Starting slowly is the best way to start getting active. It’s important to remember that even though it may be a struggle, even just 5 minutes of exercise a day can be really good for your mental and physical health. Though it can be demotivating losing some of that ability you once had, the best way to get it back is to try and build up your strength again.
Monitor Your Diet
Things like eating right can become a big challenge after a stroke – depending on which parts of your brain are damaged, it can affect the way you eat in a variety of ways, whether that’s difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, or struggling to prepare your meals.
If you have problems swallowing, also known as dysphagia, this can have a significant impact on how you interact and enjoy foods, and it presents a risk of choking. There are a few options – for example, you could use a food and drink thickener like SimplyThick Easy Mix to make food easier to swallow. You can also opt for foods and textures that are easier to swallow, such as soft and pureed food.
Opting for meal preparation and delivery services also helps take the preparation steps out of eating, meaning you can enjoy food without needing to spend hours of energy making it. This can also be helpful if you have trouble motivating yourself to eat, as it’s easier to get the motivation when the food is delivered to you, ready to be eaten.
Look After Your Mental Health
One of the biggest problems that may arise after a stroke is the psychological impact it has on the individual. Depression and anxiety are incredibly common to experience after a stroke, both due to a combination of the impact of the stroke on the brain, but also the limitations and loss of autonomy the individual may feel after a stroke.
Accessing therapy is something that should be offered after you’ve experienced a stroke, but there are other things you can do to monitor your mental health. Reaching out to family and friends for support is one of the best ways to look after yourself, as they can offer support and understanding, as well as more practical help with things around the house if you’re struggling.
Practicing self-care is also essential after a stroke. Though you may feel like you have less energy or struggle to do things, even small activities like stretching for a minute or making your bed can be key, not only to helping you feel more comfortable, but also for giving yourself back some autonomy. Here are some small acts of self-care that you can do today.
Socialize at Least Once a Week
Socializing is incredibly important – humans are social creatures, and we need interactions with others to help us feel content and happy. It’s possible as well that a lot of your interactions with people may be related to your stroke, whether that’s accessing treatment or seeking support from loved ones, so having time outside of that to spend time with people is important to give yourself an escape from the effects of the stroke.
Socializing with others can also be a great way to add some variety to your week and make it fun, especially if you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression. Many suggestions are low intensity, like board games, meaning you can get involved without feeling like you’re expending too much energy. Doing something creative is also a great idea – creative activities such as art therapies seem to improve quality of life, reduce depression, and improve physical function for individuals after a stroke. This may help give you something to look forward to and help you feel more normal in your life again.
Though going through a stroke is one of the most difficult experiences, these four suggestions can help you work back towards living a normal life.