Mindfulness during stroke rehabilitation can lead to big gains.
Although it may be overlooked and underrated, mindfulness is a great way to promote both healing and happiness after stroke.
Since more happiness could motivate more action, this is an avenue worthy of attention.
Let’s dig into how mindfulness can benefit recovery after a stroke.
How to Boost Healing After a Stroke
Of course, we can’t start talking about stroke recovery without first discussing neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the process the brain uses to create and strengthen neural pathways. This process illustrates how the brain is capable of changing and healing after a stroke.
The process of neuroplasticity occurs based on learning and experience.
Therefore, to activate neuroplasticity, you must practice the skills you want to relearn. You’re likely already doing this during your therapy sessions, and hopefully at home, too.
Neuroplasticity works best when there is consistent learning and experience to stimulate the brain. The more you practice, the better your skills will get.
Best of all, you can use neuroplasticity in two ways: to heal the brain and boost happiness. How, exactly? Let’s dive into that next.
Boosting Happiness During Stroke Recovery
Stroke recovery can present certain challenges that may also challenge your ability to be happy. This deserves attention, because happiness can motivate action – and action is how recovery is made.
However, some individuals struggle with emotions that impede happiness, such as depression or frustration. This is understandable as the secondary effects of a stroke, such as impaired arm or leg function, can make everyday tasks more difficult.
And there is another factor at play too: your self-talk. Fortunately, while the secondary effects of a stroke take time to heal, your self-talk can be addressed immediately.
This concept is critical to a successful recovery because your thoughts influence your actions, and improving your self-talk could motivate more meaningful action towards recovery.
For instance, if you told yourself that a plateau in progress means the end of the road, consider how this could prevent you from taking action. Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and prevents you from recovering.
Fortunately, your thoughts can be improved just like any other skill, and mindfulness is a great tool for the job.
Using Mindfulness as a Tool for Stroke Rehabilitation
Mindfulness is the process of paying close attention to your thoughts and actions – and it can help promote recovery after a stroke.
To understand how, let’s look at a quick example.
Consider for a moment which of these situations would make you happiest:
- Doing hand therapy while focusing on your therapy
- Doing hand therapy while thinking about traveling in Paris
- Traveling in Paris while thinking about hand therapy
- Traveling in Paris while focusing on traveling in Paris
Can you guess which one? Believe it or not, science actually shows that both situation #1 and #4 lead to the most happiness.
Indeed, it’s a scientific fact that we’re happiest when thought and action are aligned.
Presence is key, and here’s how it can help stroke recovery:
Promoting Healing Through the Present Moment
During stroke recovery, it can be hard to be present, especially if you struggle with your new normal.
If you find yourself reminiscing about the past or yearning for the future, this is understandable but not mindful. As a result, it doesn’t encourage as much happiness as a mindful approach would.
Often, it’s not our intention to have wandering minds. It’s likely something that we’ve been doing our entire lives, and because of neuroplasticity, our brains have become very efficient at wandering.
Luckily, it can work the other way around, too. You can use neuroplasticity to train yourself to be more mindful, and a great tool for this is meditation.
Mindfulness and Meditation
- Reduce depression, tiredness, and fatigue
- Grow the grey matter of your brain
- Improve balance, attention, and emotion regulation
It must be done long-term in order to produce these results, though. After all, the brain requires experience in order to rewire itself.
Only by exposing ourselves to the stimulus of meditation on a regular basis can we encourage the brain to become more mindful.
A great way to get started is by listening to guided meditations on YouTube or in an app (like Aura, which is on our list of top stroke recovery apps).
Healing & Happiness After Stroke
If you’ve made it to the end, it’s clear that you enjoy the idea of using mindfulness to boost recovery after stroke.
To dive even deeper, you’ll love our book Healing & Happiness After Stroke – How to Get Back Up After Life Turned Upside-Down.
It’s a science-based approach on how to boost self-esteem, happiness, and recovery. Since you’re interested in mindfulness, we know you’ll love the book.