Coping strategies

How quickly a stroke survivor sees improvements during rehabilitation depends on many things, such as how severe the stroke was. Therapists and health workers will work with stroke survivors and carers to improve recovery and reduce the risk of another stroke. However, while there is a lot of support available to you, the motivation has to be yours. It is important to remember that you are the person who must put in the effort.

What you should do

  • Take stock of your life: do you need to do all the things that you used to think were important?
  • Set yourself manageable goals: give yourself daily targets for how much you do, what you do, and how quickly you expect to improve.
  • Be flexible: try new ways of doing things.
  • Look after your health: eat well, exercise carefully, drink moderately and quit smoking! Make sure that you have regular blood pressure checks and remember to take your medication.
  • Keep up your social contacts: stay in touch with friends – even if it seems like hard work it will be worth it. Accept all genuine offers of help.
  • Find time to relax completely every day by doing something you enjoy: it could be listening to music, reading the paper, having a massage, or stroking the cat!
  • Seek professional support: ask your therapists to write down what they are doing, and what type of changes you can expect. Be honest about how much you are following the advice that is given to you.

What you should NOT do

  • Compare now with before: looking back on how things used to be will not make you any better. Try to focus on how you are now, and what you can do.
  • Bottle up your feelings: a good cry can help. Be open and tell your family or close friends about how you feel, and what help you need.
  • Force yourself to go on: tiredness is common as it can be your brain’s way of recovering. Talk to your therapist for advice on planning your time. Doing too much too early can set you back.
  • Take things out on other people: you may be angry and frustrated. Try not to turn on other people, but use anger to help you. It can be the driving force to help you keep on working to recover and remind you that you still have plenty of fight that you can use to re-build your life.