Twelve Keys to Life

Recently, my mother had a stroke. In trying to help her, I have realised that many of the suggested techniques are in fact very useful for life in general. Here are twelve keys for recovery and life:

Self-Belief: If you don’t believe that you are going to improve then you won’t. Self-belief is key to living a happy, fulfilled life both personally and professionally.

Avoiding negative self-talk: Thinking negatively becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Practice, practice, practice: After a stroke, it is all too easy to give up on rehab exercises after a short period of no improvement. The brain needs a high number of repetitions in order to rewire itself successfully and heal.

Sleep and Rest: while repetition is important, over-doing it is not helpful. The brain needs sleep and rest so it can store new information in ‘files’ which can then be retrieved.

Passion: Motivation and vision are essential to keep us going when things get tough. When we are passionate about something, we don’t give up however disheartened we may become.

Perseverance: Stroke recovery can be tiring and exhausting. So can life. Sometimes it helps to have a schedule or even someone to keep us accountable. That way our pride can work for us, keeping us going even when we don’t feel like it.

Communication: Just as the brain of a stroke patient needs clear and concrete signs that the exercises being done are correct and helpful, we need to communicate with ourselves that what we are doing is working. If writing is an option, journalling at the beginning or end of a day helps us see the improvements we are making in our lives.

Know when it’s time to work harder: Plateaus happen in all sorts of areas of life from rehab exercises to diets and exercise. Recovery for stroke patients typically slows down after about three to six months but it will only stop when the patient stops trying. Similarly, we can begin a new hobby with great verve – learning to play the piano or a new language, for example. When the enthusiasm inevitably lessens, it is time to double your efforts.

Variety is the Spice of Life: The brain can become used to the stimulation it is being given. New challenges can get us out of ruts and promote a new sense of achievement.

The Importance of Friends: We do not have to be alone. There are teams of therapists and doctors on hand for stroke patients. Support helps us to enjoy our lives. Socialising with friends and family can give great pleasure and sharing concerns can help ease depression and anxiety.

Purpose: Realising that we have a part to play, however poorly we might feel, is vital for all of us.

Altruism: Being interested in others makes us feel good. Listening to others and trying to help them is an important part of being human. It can also be a privilege and teaches us how to be compassionate, gentle and loving. When someone finds it hard to communicate we have to learn to listen not only with our ears but with our instinct, intuition and heart. Such connection often only happens in times of great need and, hard as it is, it can also be extremely beautiful.

Love Laurelle