You need some happiness in order to find maximum healing after stroke. It’s an essential ingredient for recovery. Why?
Because happy survivors (meaning, survivors who intentionally put effort into finding reasons to be happy) are far more likely to stick with their rehab regimens and believe in themselves – two key ingredients for a great recovery.
So, get ready to slather on the smiles.
The following advice is a combination of brain science and simple advice that will help boost your happiness and, as a result, boost your recovery too.
5. Don’t Be Shallow
When we get stressed out, overwhelmed, or anxious, the last thing on our mind is our breath, which means that it’s probably pretty shallow.
And shallow breaths only worsens potential anxiety and stress. So, instead of taking shallow breaths, we want to breathe deep.
Deep breaths are a great way to lessen stress and anxiety.
Whenever you feel yourself getting worked up over something, try to come back to your breath. Breathe in for 8 full seconds, and then breathe out for 8 full seconds. Do this repeatedly until you feel yourself calming down.
Allow your breath to turn into a reset button.
If you can get into the habit of doing this, you can take more control of negative emotions, which, of course, makes room for more happiness.
4. Read Motivational Quotes
Our thoughts affect our feelings. Meaning, if we can generate happy thoughts, we will naturally start to feel happier.
A great way to generate happy thoughts – even when you’re not feeling positive – is by reading uplifting quotes. It’s like adopting someone else’s happy thoughts as your own.
If you feel like you’re going through a particularly rough patch of your recovery, then I recommend reading inspirational quotes every single morning.
It will help prime your brain to think more positive thoughts throughout the day, which will help you feel happier.
3. Turn Off Your ‘Doing Mode’
Happiness often takes a downturn during recovery because you’re presented with a bunch of new problems to solve – and this hyper-activates your brain’s ‘Default Mode Network.’
This brain network is responsible for efficiency and problem solving. Its job is to scout out problems and find solutions to those problems – constantly. This is why it’s easier to notice something wrong than it is to notice something right.
Our brain is more sensitive to problems.
Unfortunately, the more we become fixated on problems, the greater our unhappiness becomes. So it’s of the utmost important to get your Default Mode Network under control.
You can accomplish this through the next two tasks.
2. Meditate Daily for a Healthier, Happier Brain
You need a daily meditation habit. It’s seriously good for you.
I’ve already talked about how good meditation is for your brain on the blog before – so hopefully you’re already doing it.
But if you aren’t, you have another reason to start doing it: Meditation helps turn your Default Mode Network off and create more room for happiness.
Please note that this DOES NOT happen all at once. In fact, you may find that meditation is quite uncomfortable at first.
But trust that you will get better at meditation through consistent practice – and your Default Mode Networks will start becoming less and less active.
1. Start a Happiness Journal
Another great way to rewire your mind for happiness is to start a happiness journal.
Make a habit of writing down 10 things that you’re happy about every single morning. This helps train your brain to seek out things to be happy about even when you’re not writing in your journal (thanks to good ol’ neuroplasticity).
At first, it may feel hard to find that many things. But that’s where the little things come into play.
Stroke recovery is full of tiny victories and small miracles each and every day, and your happiness journal is a great place to log them.
Then, when you’re having a particularly bad day, you can look back on your entries and remind yourself that there are still many reasons to be happy.
0. Take Advantage of the Growth
This is a bonus tip because it doesn’t exactly promote happiness now, but it will help you focus on the right things to ensure happiness later.
This tip is about personal growth.
As you progress through recovery, you’ll get to see what you do when faced with challenge. In other words, stroke recovery will show you exactly what you’re made of, and it will either be the best or worst thing ever.
Make sure that it’s the best thing by prioritizing your growth at every turn. Often, this means choosing growth over comfort.
Stroke recovery is wildly uncomfortable, unfortunately, but that’s one of the many reason why survivors become stronger after stroke. Because as you continue to push through, you will naturally develop resilience and persistence and tons of strength.
And happiness is a natural side effect when you’re growing into a better, stronger version of yourself.
The Healing & Happiness after Stroke Book
I haven’t introduce myself personally on the blog yet, and it’s about time I do so.
My name is Kari, and I’m the author of these articles. I also recently published a book called Healing and Happiness after Stroke: How to Get Back Up after Life Turned Upside-Down.
If you like our blog, then you’ll love my new book.
You can read the first 3 chapters for free here. Thanks for giving it a look 🙂