Recovering from a stroke starts with a solid base of knowledge.
If you know what to do to maximize your efforts, then you’ll save time and energy. This article will show you what to do more of and what to do less of, so that everything streamlines into a speedy recovery.
8. Optimize Your Diet
Have you ever heard of the ketogentic diet for stroke recovery? It’s a low-carb, high-fat diet that’s proven to help boost brain power. If your doctor gives you the green light, try it out and see if you feel better. Otherwise, just stick to a plant-based, whole food diet and you’ll be in good shape.
7. Sleep or Risk It All
Your brain uses a whopping 20% of your energy, and that percentage only increases when its recovering from injury. Give your brain what it needs by getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night and taking naps throughout the day.
Added bonus: Sleep helps your brain retain the information it learned from the day’s rehab exercises.
6. Do This Every Morning
Rehab exercises will get you where you need to go physically. Visualization, or mental practice, will get you there mentally.
Mental practice is the art of visualizing yourself doing your rehab exercises in your head, which triggers neuroplasticity the same way that physical practice does. If you mentally practice consistently enough (we recommend 5 minutes every morning), and continue to do your rehab exercises regularly, then you will see better results – and that’s backed by science.
5. Set Goals Using This Unique Tactic
Do your eyes glaze over whenever someone tells you that you need to set goals? That’s because you’re not setting outcome-oriented goals, the better type of goal that can boost motivation.
To set an outcome-oriented goal, pick an action that you need to take towards your recovery but have failed to do so, either from procrastination or lack of motivation. Then write down these 4 things next to it:
- The pain associated with not taking action
- The pleasure gained from procrastination
- The cost of not taking action
- What could be gained by taking action
When you can clearly see the positive outcomes and negative consequences associated with taking action versus inaction, it’ll motivate you to start working. Try the exercise for yourself right now and see what it does to your mindset. We know it will make a huge motivational impact.
4. Speed Recovery by Slowing Your Mind
More meditation leads to more recovery – once again backed by science.
A daily meditation practice can help:
- Alleviate depression, tiredness, and fatigue
- Improve attention, emotion regulation, and mental flexibility
- Grow your brain and improve information processing
The benefits are insane!
So start your meditation habit today. And if you find yourself procrastinating, set an outcome-oriented goal towards it and start with just 2 minutes. It’ll be hard to put off that way.
3. Become a Positive Illusionist
Positive illusions are “a form of self-deception or self-enhancement that feel good, maintain self-esteem, or stave off discomfort at least in the short term.” Now, why on earth are we recommending that you become a positive illusionist?
Well, when you heard about the limitations of your recovery (like never being able to walk again or regain full use of your hand), it turns into a negative illusion and discourages you from trying to achieve more.
That’s why some survivors who could achieve a full recovery don’t – because they were influenced by a negative illusion that was never meant to come true.
So let’s flip this thing around in a way that benefits you instead of hinders you. Start questioning your limitations and always remain curious about how far you can take your recovery. Although illusions are only in your head, the mind is very powerful.
Use it to your advantage.
2. Make It Stick
We talk about good ol’ neuroplasticity at least once a week here on the blog, and for good reason. It’s the most important thing that will make your improvements stick.
Neuroplasticity is how your brain rewires itself after injury, and it’s only made possible by repeating tasks over and over. This repetition can occur physically or mentally (i.e. mental practice from tip #4), and we recommend both for the highest recovery.
If you do your rehab exercises sporadically, then you won’t see good improvement because your brain needs repetitive reinforcement in order for things to stick. Individuals who are disciplined about their practices will always see great improvement because they’re giving their brain what it needs.
1. Know the REAL Cause of Spasticity
Impaired movement and spasticity after stroke is caused by brain-muscle miscommunication.
When this miscommunication occurs, the spinal cord takes over. But the spinal cord doesn’t know how to properly operate your muscles, so it helps in the only way it can: to prevent your muscles from tearing.
To do this, the spinal cord sends signals to keep your muscles in a state of contraction, which causes spasticity.
Pain-killers and heat packs can help alleviate spasticity in the short run, but repetitive practice is your best bet for the long-run. This will restore the communication between your brain and muscles, and allow your brain to signal your muscles to relax.
And there you have it, eight keys to stroke recovery that will move things along in a positive upward spiral.
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