By Patricia Raya, Guest Blogger, Stroke Survivor
The holidays are around the corner. While these occasions are meant to be filled with joy and happiness with family and friends, sometimes they become a bit stressful and can cause anxiety. Often there is a lot of pressure to have the perfect holiday.
For the person affected by stroke feelings of stress, worry, sadness, and even anger are normal.
Remembering the past can be frustrating. Thanksgiving and Christmas are painted as perfect times of the year where all is right with the world. The world is different when you are looking at it through a stroke.
No matter where you are in your treatment and recovery, you’ll be affected in some way.
Here are some hints to make the holiday season more enjoyable and successful:
- Talk to loved ones, friends, and family. Tell them how you’re feeling. Be honest. If you’re overwhelmed and stressed let them know.
- Say “yes” to offers of help. People want to assist you. Let them. Give them suggestions.
- Learn to be present in the moment. Enjoy the moment and relax. Practice mindfulness. Take time out and listen to a guided meditation.
- Choose activities that are most important to you. It is ok to decline an invitation. Set limits. Others might not understand how fatigued you feel. Take time for a nap to recharge.
- Make a list. Lists are helpful for organizing and remembering. Making a list of tasks and categorizing them into “need to do” and “want to do.” Lists can help lighten the load of personal expectation. Cross off items as you complete them and don’t worry about those left undone. Ask family and friends to help you complete your list, go shopping if you are up to it.
- Do what you feel like doing. Doing things that were important to you before your stroke can help keep your spirits up.
- Surround yourself with others. It’s easier to maneuver through the holidays with those who love and care about you. Let them encourage you and offer comfort. Try not to isolate yourself.
- Look for the positives. Focus on blessings and forget the failures. Take time to be intentionally thankful.
- Keep your regular routine. A change in routine can lead to additional stress. Try to exercise at your usual time, go to meetings that you normally go to, and stick to as normal a diet as you possibly can.
This time of year can be a challenge, but it shouldn’t be dreaded. Having had a stroke doesn’t have to steal your holiday joy.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.
The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.