This is the habits section of our stroke recovery tips series. Find our other tips for stroke recovery here:
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
Like your mindset, your habits make all the difference. If you don’t have habits that set yourself up for success, then it will be that much harder to succeed.
For example, if you don’t have the habit of doing your rehab exercises, then you won’t do them – or you’ll use up all your willpower getting yourself to do them, with none left over for the rest of the day.
Therefore the answer is simple: to succeed in your recovery, you need good habits.
Start with these 3.
18. Do What Michael Phelps Did Everyday
Visualization is a powerful neuroscience technique that can help rewire your brain and improve performance.
Michael Phelps, 18 time Olympic gold medalist, used visualization to prepare for his swim meets. He would spend time visualizing himself winning his races, and he would also visualize himself dealing with complications. That way, when complications arose, he was already wired to deal with them.
You can apply the same technique to stroke recovery.
Researchers have already proved that it works.
Visualization can help rewire the brain after stroke by triggering neuroplasticity the same way that physical practice does. While visualization cannot substitute physical therapy, combining the two can lead to a higher recovery.
We recommend doing mental practice for 5 minutes every morning. Pick a task or ability that you want to improve and visualize yourself doing it. Be sure to use excruciating detail. (Learn more about the process here.)
In a few days’ time you’ll start to see results.
19. Grow Your Good Brain
Meditation is a habit that every stroke survivor needs as it helps grow your brain, regulate emotions, and reduce fatigue – invaluable benefits for stroke recovery.
This solution is simple, but not easy. Getting yourself to sit down and actually meditate is the hardest part. That’s why you need to make it a habit.
Pick a specific time to meditate every day (we recommend the morning time after your cup of stroke-preventing coffee), and only aim for 2 minutes a day to start. (It’s really hard to find excuses when it just take a couple minutes.)
The longer you keep the habit up, the more benefits you’ll feel.
20. Reverse Negativity
Our brain naturally has a negative bias, remembering negative events more vividly than positive events. Luckily gratitude can reverse that mechanism.
To cultivate an attitude of gratitude, spend some time every day – even if it’s just for another 2 minutes – writing down things you’re grateful for in a journal.
Once this habit is developed, it will train your brain to notice more and more things to be grateful for. Again, it’s all about neuroplasticity.
We are what we repeatedly do.