This is part 8 of our Ultimate Guide to Life after a Stroke series.
Happiness + Freedom
In the early stages of recovery, many stroke survivors put off having fun until they get back to ‘normal,’ but that’s not how things should be.
We need fun in our lives to nurture feelings of happiness and freedom – two precious emotions during stroke recovery.
Don’t wait until you’re fully recovered to get back to your hobbies or find new ones. You need your hobbies to help you recover.
The following 4 hobbies are stroke survivor approved.
Try not to rule anything out because you don’t think you have the skills for it yet. You don’t need to be good at any of these activities in order to find escape through them.
Painting & The State of Flow
*Creative skills not required
Have you ever heard of flow?
Flow is a mental state where you’re performing an activity while fully immersed in it. You’re focused, energized, and happy. Flow is often referred to as “the zone,” the place where we feel strong, capable, and talented.
You can find this state during many recreational activities, and painting is one of them.
And you don’t have to be good at painting, either. You don’t need to produce something that looks good – you just have to do it and lose yourself in it.
That’s how stroke survivor Mary felt when she had the opportunity to paint while she was in the hospital. Even though she didn’t have any movement in half her fingers, she still painted – and it helped her escape.
Cooking – The Meditation That Tastes Good
*Again, creative skills not required
You can find flow during almost every artful recreational activity.
While many of us consider cooking a chore, you can easily turn it into a hobby by shifting your mentality.
Turn your time in the kitchen into your time to actively meditate and get lost in your senses. Allow yourself to slow down and become fully immersed in what you’re doing. (You may want to check out our tips on cooking with one hand.)
If you find yourself getting frustrated with cooking, that’s okay. The state of flow is only attainable when challenge meets skill. As you continue to improve your fine motor skills, your skill will continue to increase and so will your sense of enjoyment.
Dancing on Land and Sea
*Fancy feet not required
If you’re looking for an authentic release, then dance movement therapy is for you. And you don’t need to be a good dancer either – or any kind of dancer for that matter.
During dance movement therapy, you just let yourself move how you want to move. Sway side to side, close your eyes, look up, look down, do a little shuffle, spin in a nice slow circle.
It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you become fully immersed in what you’re doing.
Dance movement therapy is even more fun when you get to practice it in water, where increased mobility and lightness allows you to find even more freedom and happiness.
Ande Welling, a dance movement therapist, talks about his experience with dance movement therapy during stroke recovery:
“In the water, the fear of falling is diminished… and for a few sweet minutes, she can let go… Sometimes, her mood shifts, the hopelessness of being bound in a body that refuses to do what it used to, is temporarily suspended. This also triggers a release of grief, the waves of sadness for what once was, flow freely.”
Aquatic dance movement therapy can be a true blessing for those who yearn for feelings of bodily freedom.
Yoga the Non-Western Way
*Flexibility not required
In our culture, we often think of yoga as bending and shaping ourselves into beautiful figures that remind us of graceful ballerinas, but that isn’t what yoga is truly about.
Yoga is about finding mind-body connection.
As a stroke survivor, you can engage in many different forms of yoga, like lying meditation (savasana), mindful walking, and controlled breathing (pranayama). You can learn more about these 3 types of yoga here.
By bring loving focus into your mind and body, yoga therapy helps increase feelings of peace and self-acceptance.
What are your thoughts on yoga for stroke recovery? Have you tried it yet?
How do you find ways to have fun during stroke recovery?
Leave us a comment below and let’s get talking!