Navigating life after a stroke can seem an intimidating task. Besides altering your mind and body, a stroke can change how you engage in social activities, work, and leisure. Since stroke has various and far-reaching effects, it isn’t easy to find advice suitable for your unique circumstances.
Having a medical team looking out for you is an excellent idea. However, there are some words of wisdom that will aid all stroke survivors. Here are five actionable tips to help you manage your stroke recovery.
1. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is the art of caring for yourself to satisfy your emotional, physical, and mental needs. It comes in various forms, such as sleeping well, personal hygiene, drinking water, eating healthy, exercising, and other recreational activities.
Practicing self-care enhances your overall quality of life, health, relationships, mood, and general performance in your day-to-day life. Self-care is also crucial in stroke recovery and preventing other health complications.
So how do you care for yourself after a stroke? Begin by being mindful of your needs, feelings, and conditions and asking for help when needed. Even if you need help with some basic daily activities, understanding how and when to ask for help is an act of self-care.
Besides, attending your doctor’s appointments, taking medications as directed, making healthy preferences to live a healthy lifestyle, complying with rehab treatments, and participating in activities you enjoy are some ways of practicing self-care that will make you healthier and more robust.
2. Use-It Or Lose-It
Most stroke survivors who have gone through rehab understand the phrase, “Use it or lose it.” It is a common saying among therapists, describing the brain’s ability to remodel itself after damage via a process known as neuroplasticity.
Regularly practicing skills such as grasping, reaching, functional objects use, or walking can produce new neural connections (pathways for brain signals), resulting in enhanced performance. However, unused neural circuits deteriorate with time. Thus, failure to use your affected side early and regularly causes your brain to rearrange itself, making it much more difficult to regain control of your body parts later.
Incorporate your affected side into your daily regimen, even if it seems time-consuming. Ask your doctor for recommendations if you are unaware of the particular skills you can practice safely at home. They can guide you on movement patterns, activities, and postures you can practice regularly to regain your skills effectively.
3. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Avoid all high-sugar beverages and processed foods, including refined flour. Also, avoid coffee and alcohol. After a stroke, your diet should contain plenty of vegetables and fruits, which are excellent sources of potassium, so you can prevent your blood pressure from spiking.
Incorporate lean meats such as turkey, fish, beef, and chicken into your diet. For your carbohydrate sources, consider pasta and whole grains, healthy fats, principally omega-3 fats (fatty fish, nuts, chia seeds), and monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocado). Avoid trans fats (cookies, packaged foods, chips) and omega-6 fats (refined oils) to reduce or prevent arterial inflammation.
Remember, probiotic supplements can be beneficial because the health of the intestinal microbiota has been associated with brain health.
4. Maintain the Right Posture
Sometimes it is arduous to maintain the correct posture after a stroke because of joint contracture, muscle imbalance, and other complications. But poor posture can culminate in other health problems such as decreased functional skills, joint pain, and backache.
It can also affect your limbs’ movement, gait, and balance. However, the right balance and sitting posture will enable you to safely engage in many functional tasks such as writing, dressing, using a computer, and other tabletop activities.
So, try the following to maintain the correct posture:
- Sit up straight. Don’t lean backward or forward when sitting.
- Don’t dangle your feet or cross your legs; let both feet comfortably touch the ground.
- Open up your chest and position your shoulders back.
- Stand up from your seat every 30 minutes to stretch or walk around if you have sufficient balance. If you don’t, try stretching your legs, neck, and arms every 30 minutes while seated.
- Use your core and lower back tendons to help you sit up straight.
- Use ankle foot orthotics (AFO) if you suffer from foot drop. An AFO brace for foot drop will help improve the alignment of your foot and make walking easier.
5. Sleep Well
In a biological sense, sleep is a subconscious state characterized by reduced sensory activity and interaction with your environment. Sleep plays three significant roles in human lives. It Releases good hormones (melatonin), improves memory, and relieves depression.
If you had difficulty sleeping after a stroke due to deteriorating functions, enhancing your sleep quality should be one of your rehab priorities.
To improve your sleep, enjoy lots of sunlight during the daytime to boost melatonin production in your body. Melatonin is responsible for good sleep. Keep a regular bedtime and active hours to regulate your biological rhythm. Also, avoid excess caffeine, which is found in coffee, soda, and red tea.
When recovering after a stroke, take care of yourself at every moment. Remember, the small efforts you make every day go a long way towards your successful healing. If you are a smoker, avoid smoking because it interferes with healing. Practice self-care, move your body, eat a healthy diet, maintain the correct posture, and sleep well to speed up your recovery after the stroke.