“We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit.” – Aristotle
Reclaiming your life and independence after stroke requires a lot of hard work.
But luckily, strong work ethic is greatly rewarded during stroke recovery. You get out what you put in.
A great way to make hard work a little easier is to develop an armory of solid habits that will keep you on track toward your goals.
Because once you develop the habit, it takes less willpower to get yourself to do it.
Below you will find 5 habits that we believe will lead to a better, faster recovery.
5. Meditation to Grow Your Brain
The benefits of meditation are all perfectly aligned with healing the side effects of stroke.
Daily meditation is proven to help:
- Reduce depression, tiredness, and fatigue
- Improve attention, emotion regulation, and mental flexibility
- Grow your brain and improve information processing
Because of these massive benefits, we believe that meditation should be part of every stroke survivor’s morning routine.
Even if it’s for just 2 minutes a day, you’ll experience some of these great benefits.
4. Mental Practice to Boost Recovery
Mental practice is the process of visualizing yourself doing something that you want to get better at.
This habit is critical during stroke recovery because mental practice activates neuroplasticity the same way that physical practice does!
Meaning, if you want to improve movement in your body, it’s a great idea to mentally practice your rehab exercises as well.
Although, you’ll see the best results when you combine physical and mental practice.
For example, there was a stroke survivor and yoga teacher who would visualize herself doing certain yoga poses each day during her recovery.
Each day, she would visualize herself performing one movement in excruciating detail. Then, she would try to physically practice that movement.
Through this daily physical and mental practice, she would get better and better at her poses each day.
3. Read Your Goals Each Morning
You have stroke recovery goals, right? You may have developed some with the help of your therapist, or maybe you’ve created your own.
Having goals helps keep you on track during recovery – but it doesn’t just stop there.
After we set goals, we often lose track of them because our attention becomes absorbed back into our daily lives.
That’s why you should make a point of rereading your goals daily.
This will help remind you of the greater picture and help motivate you to follow through on all your good habits and exercises.
2. Get Plenty of Sleep
Post-stroke fatigue and tiredness are common post-stroke side effects.
Jill Bolte Taylor said that she craved sleep all the time after her stroke, and she felt that it was very important to allow herself to sleep as much as she wanted.
Sleep gives your brain a chance to recharge and refresh itself.
It also help you turn short-term memories about movement into long-term memories stored in your motor cortex.
So, sleep helps you feel better and move better.
If you suffer from sleep apnea or insomnia after stroke, we recommend talking with your doctor to see if they can help you get some essential shut eye.
1. Do Something the Long Way Every Day
This last habit is critical if you want a full recovery from stroke.
Do you use any compensation techniques to help you get things done faster – not necessarily because you need them?
(Compensation techniques involve shortcuts that help you adapt to your stroke side effects.)
If you answered yes, then those compensation techniques are preventing you from achieving a full recovery.
For example, if you have enough movement in your affected hand to wash the dishes with both hands – but you choose to wash the dishes with just one hand (a compensation technique) for the sake of time and frustration – then you’re limiting your own recovery.
But we get it. It’s understandable to use compensation techniques to save time because you need to live your life and get things done.
That’s why our top recommended habit is to spend just 15 minutes every day doing something without any compensation techniques (i.e. the “long way”). And if you can go longer than 15 minutes, then please indulge!
For example, if you like to wash dishes with one hand even if you could technically use both, then dedicate to 15 minutes of double-handed dish washing each day.
By doing it for just 15 minutes, you can minimize the frustration and still get things done.
And that concludes our 5 essential habits for a faster recovery.