Doctors often manage anxiety after stroke with medication — but if you don’t want medication, then this article will provide natural options.
Understanding Anxiety After Stroke
Anxiety and stroke are heavily linked due to the life-threatening nature of the condition.
After stroke, many patients find themselves in a constant state of worry or unease, which is the condition of anxiety.
See if you can relate to any of these symptoms:
- You constantly worry that you’ll have another stroke
- You lose sleep because you’re up all night worrying
- You avoid things you normally enjoy
If you can identify with any of these symptoms, then you’re suffering from anxiety. And we’re going to treat this emotional change through a natural approach.
There is a difference between mental anxiety and physical anxiety, but don’t worry. We will discuss treatments for both.
How to Manage the Link Between Stroke and Anxiety
The link between stroke and anxiety is often worrying about the looming, gargantuan task of stroke rehabilitation.
While thinking and preparing for the future is helpful, it becomes unhelpful when your brain becomes stuck in a state of constant worry.
So, here’s our natural treatment for anxiety after stroke: rewiring the brain.
While this concept is often associated with stroke exercise (because repetition of exercise rewires the brain), it can also apply to anxiety after stroke.
Rewiring the Brain to Reduce Anxiety After Stroke
To help illustrate this concept, we will refer to your brain’s ‘doing mode.’
Your “doing mode” refers to the default problem-solving nature of your mind. When left to its own devices, your brain will constantly look for solutions to your problems.
During stroke recovery, this can lead to a perpetual state of worry as you try to solve all the side effects of stroke.
So, when you’re participating in physical therapy at home, keep your doing mode on. But when you’re done, turn it off!
Stop thinking about the long road ahead and let your mind relax. You deserve a break from all the effort.
Give yourself some time to just be. And you’ll find that this simple state of presence will help alleviate your anxiety.
Alleviate Anxiety the Mindful Way
Anxiety stems from wanting to be there but being stuck here instead.
When you become fixated on the finish line, your mind isn’t present. Resisting the present moment is the primary cause of anxiety. This is where mindfulness during stroke recovery can help.
See if, for just a moment, you can stop resisting the present moment and accept it the way it is.
When you can finally surrender to the present moment, you’ll find the capacity to relax.
And when you stop worrying, you’ll have more energy when you decide to turn your doing mode ON.
This will help speed up stroke recovery!
Treating Physical Anxiety After Stroke
Anxiety after stroke is both a mental and physical condition. The prior tips will mostly help alleviate mental anxiety. Now let’s discuss how to handle physical anxiety.
On a bodily level, anxiety can cause your breath to become shortened and heart rate to quicken. These biological responses to anxiety will make you even more anxious, but there’s something you can do right now to help.
Stop what you’re doing, calm your thoughts, and turn your focus inward.
Inhale for a count of four, hold it for a count of seven, and then exhale for a count of eight.
It’s really hard, but it will force your heart rate to slow down and help you relax. Try it right now and see for yourself.
A Good Diet May Help Reduce Anxiety
Aside from deep breathing, there’s another thing you can do to ease bodily anxiety: eating well.
Are you eating any of these anxious foods?
- Processed foods
- Refined or artificial sugar
- Gluten (wheat, barley, rye)
Sometimes we have food sensitivities and we don’t even know it. That’s what an elimination diet is for.
An elimination diet involves completely removing all possible trigger foods from your diet. Then once you eliminate everything for a couple weeks, start to add one food back at a time – usually a couple weeks apart.
As you add each possible trigger food back into your diet, listen to your body. Does it make you feel the same or worse? As you become more in tune with your body, you can accurately identify any dietary sources of anxiety.
You can also refer to our list of the best foods for stroke recovery to get ideas for your grocery list.
We hope this mindful approach to treating anxiety after stroke helps you find peace.