The stroke Journey A fresh start 7. Socialising and getting out Socialising and getting out Stroke is a life-changing event and it can alter the way you feel about yourself. The way you do things and your willingness to return to the things you enjoy can all be greatly affected. As part of stroke recovery, it is very important to continue socialising with family, friends and like-minded people. The initial steps you make on any journey are the hardest, but often the most satisfying. When arranging your first outings, plan to leave home for just an hour or two, not the entire day. It is important not to overdo it and recognise the progress you make daily, no matter how small or large. Managing your fatigue – what to do: Tell family and friends: it is important that people around you know about fatigue so that they can then help you deal with it. Check with your GP, stroke nurse or consultant: some medication and conditions such as anaemia, diabetes or an inactive thyroid gland can cause tiredness. Listen to your body: if you are overwhelmingly exhausted during the day, take a rest. Learn to pace yourself: find your level and then slowly build it up. The overall aim is to find out how much you can do in a day consistently. Aim for a regular sleeping pattern: evenings are often when people feel most tired and should be rest times when you wind down. Try to go to bed at a similar time each night. Exercise in whatever way fits in best for you. It may be the last thing you feel able to do, but actually exercise helps to improve fatigue. Eat healthily and avoid alcohol as much as possible. Seek out support. Your local stroke team or GP will be able to help direct you. Managing your fatigue – what NOT to do: Tell yourself that you are weak or stupid. Fatigue is extremely common after stroke. Be negative and think you’ll never make progress. Don’t push yourself to do too much: even if you’re having a ‘better day’, this will only mean you spend the next day or two absolutely exhausted and probably miserable as well. Learn to prioritise: don’t make it harder for yourself by trying to do all the things you used to at the same old speed. Fatigue and depression often happen together: if you feel your mood is low or you are constantly irritable, tense and snappy, then don’t ignore it. Your GP can prescribe medication or refer you on for support and advice.