The coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone in different ways, but stress and anxiety is a pretty universal effect. For stroke survivors and caregivers, stress and anxiety is already a common theme of life after stroke, but often over looked as part of the rehabilitation process.
Science has shown that mindfulness can help. So those who are unfamiliar with mindfulness and stroke rehabilitation, we’ll begin with a simple definition:
Mindfulness is the intentional, nonjudgmental, focused awareness of this moment, centered on openness and acceptance of your inner experiences.
You might be thinking; Okay, it sounds interesting, but how does this actually work and how long will it take until I see the benefits?
Before we jump into that, take 30 seconds to follow along on the video below.
But wait, it's more than just breathing
The same way that exercise strengthens your heart and improves circulation, the same can be said for mindfulness, the more you practice you are strengthening your neuroplasticity.
To dig into the specifics, the left frontal activity of the brain is enhanced when we practice mindfulness-based stress reduction. This ‘left-shift,’ as they call it, causes the brain to move into an ‘approach state.’
In this approach state, we move toward, instead of away from, challenging situations.
Stroke Recovery and Mindfulness
Life after stroke is hard not only for survivors, but for caregivers and care teams alike. The current climate of social distancing and lock-down are making it difficult to access and deliver the standard level of care.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the challenges of rehab, through mindfulness you can find an increasing capacity to take it head on.
You will also learn how to approach these negative emotions with openness and acceptance instead of resistance, which will help them go away faster – leaving even more energy for your recovery.
Are you sold on the benefits of mindfulness for stroke recovery?
We've recommend some great apps that can get you started. These will soon be listed in our marketplace at a discounted rate for premium versions as an Enable.Us member.
Take a deep, slow breath, and let's have a look.
Insight Timer is incredibly popular and always free, with a library of over 30,000 guided meditations and a simple timer for meditation. You'll need to log in to use them. There's also a premium support tier, which has a generous 30-day trial.
Calm, is my personal favorite mindfulness and meditation app. They have both a free and premium version with guided meditations at a range of lengths. They offer stretching exercises, resources for kids, a mindfulness exercise or idea for every day, conversations and kindness prompts to help you reach out to others, and even a half-hour bedtime read to you by the most chill man in showbiz, Matthew McConaughey. The page is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Korean, and Portuguese.
There’s a pricey premium tier, but the Basics course of explanatory videos and guided sessions is free. With most, you can choose from a couple of options depending on how long you have, from just a couple of minutes to longer guided meditations. There are also free daily highlights you can do on their own, including some specific new ones for dealing with coronavirus anxiety.
Their website now includes a whole section on managing anxiety around COVID-19, with daily live “sanity break” videos.
The OG in this space, I'm sure you've heard of them. They have some free guided meditations to get you started. They also have a COVID-19 section for free.