Rehabilitation after a stroke varies for many people. Depending on the severity of the stroke, some patients recover fully while others need more time and resources. When our brain is in charge of emotions and behaviors the obvious, but sometimes largely neglected, area of recovery can be mental health. For those who have not suffered a stroke, the holiday season can already feel overwhelming. If you are someone who is recovering and trying to get the most basic daily life habits back on track, this time of year may not feel as joyous. Here are some ways to get through the holidays as a stroke survivor.
Give Yourself A Break
First and foremost, no matter where you are on your journey to recovery, be kind to yourself. You, and only you, know your limits and abilities. Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time leading up to your holiday events, celebrations, and travel. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible, be mindful of your recovery plan and talk to your family, friends, and caregivers about your concerns and needs. You might be surprised what they are willing to help you with.
When Shopping Feels Overwhelming
There is nothing worse than the last-minute frantic shopping trip before a party or holiday. Budgeting time and money is a common stressor along with gift giving anxiety. It can all be extremely overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help:
- Plan ahead: If you start at the beginning of the year, getting gifts here and there each month, by the time the holidays come around you will be done!
- Set a budget and stick to it.
- Make a list of gift recipients and budget for each.
It's ok if not everyone gets a gift. A card, phone call, or a special visit can bring just as much joy, if not more. Celebrate the joy of the season by making a donation to a loved one's favorite charity or organization. A fun organization like Heifer International provides animals like goats, chickens and even honeybees for families in need to end hunger and poverty across the globe.
Stay In Touch With Your Support Network
Making the decision to attend that holiday party or traveling to see your family does not have to be a decision you make by yourself. Reach out to your support team, family, and friends. Discuss your concerns or just chat and catch up. In the event you decide to stay home or at the last minute you aren't up to being in the holiday spirit, you will feel better knowing you have communicated with those closest to you. You can connect another time when you feel up to it.
Always discuss travel plans with your doctor or physical therapist to be sure you are cleared physically to manage a trip. Plan ahead, giving yourself plenty of time to arrange for mobility aids, or make room to pack your own, and check handicapped accessibility at your hotel or wherever you will be staying. If you are flying, call the airport or airline ahead of time to request assistance if you will be traveling alone. They have staff to help you get to your plane and can be waiting for you when you land. Traveling by car is the safest way to travel, when considering COVID-19 protocols and prevention of illness. If you decide to drive, schedule plenty of restroom breaks to get out and stretch and hydrate. Either way, plan out your music, podcast or audiobook playlist so your trip is enjoyable.
When It All Feels Like Too Much
It's ok to slow down, cancel plans, buy something pre-made instead of cooking, whatever you need to lessen your load - do it. You don't need to give excuses. Remember 'Be Kind To Yourself'? This is a part of it.
If you are not already part of a support group or seeking mental health services, there are many resources available to you. A Mental Health Program can help you focus on developing behavioral interventions, supports, and therapies for this crucial post-stroke period.
Learn more HERE or contact your doctor for suggestions.