Practicing Patience on the Journey through Stroke Recovery

Caregivers and survivors of stroke alike experience an overwhelming number of changes in their lives. Learning how to adapt to these changes can come with many frustrations, stress, and anxiety. This recorded webinar will provide practical and evidence-based tips for practicing patience and continued growth on this journey.

Impacts of a Stroke (2:28-4:57)

Caregiver’s health is impacted by a stroke. Research studies show that caregivers typically report decreased physical, social, and emotional quality of life. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have heightened this stress for those who have experienced a stroke and their caregivers alike.

Patience is a Virtue (4:58-5:06)

Caregivers experience an overwhelming number of changes in their lives and learning how to work with their loved one after a stroke can come with many frustrations. We may have days where it is easy to be patient and understanding, while we may find ourselves losing our temper or getting easily frustrated the next day. Patience is a practiced virtue!

Aphasia (5:07-8:50)

This section describes tips for communicating with someone who experiences aphasia.

  • Use an introductory phrase
  • Use context clues
  • Slow speech
  • Direct and simple phrases
  • Positive body language

Adaptations (8:51-10:37)

It is important to continue to look for opportunities to adapt your schedule, routines, or home environment to decrease stress. There are many resources available on the internet that can inspire and support you in brainstorming these adaptations.

Reframing Our Mindset (10:38-14:55)

In order to practice patience, one must try to reframe their mindset and look at the situation from others’ perspective.

  1. Common Loss. Both caregivers and survivors of stroke experience loss. Acknowledging this communicates that you are taking their feelings into consideration and making an effort to ease tension between both parties.
  2. “Blame the Disease, not the Person”. Remind yourself that a stroke is a brain injury that has multifaceted effects.
  3. Responding vs. Reacting. Reactions are a reflex. Responses require more thought and consider other people’s feelings as well.
  4. Acceptance vs. Resistance. When we resist an experience, it is difficult to move past thinking of ways to “fix” or “resolve” the challenge. However, it is important to accept situations as they come with a neutral attitude.

Self Compassion (14:56- 19:00)

It is important to have self compassion, as this practice is proven to decrease anxiety, depression, and increase resiliency (or ability to cope).

  • Positive self talk. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend.
  • Practice mindfulness. There are no right or wrong emotions. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and then move on.
  • Do things that you enjoy. Schedule time to participate in a favored hobby, do something with friends, or time to simply relax.

Relaxation and Self-Care Techniques (19:01-25:08)

Self-care does not only include eating healthy and getting enough sleep, but also attending to emotional needs, spiritual life, and engaging in personal interests. It is important to attend to each of these areas to enhance your well-being. An important aspect of self-care and stress management includes practicing relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation, deep breathing, or some other alternative strategies such as meditation and aromatherapy.

Gratitude (25:09-27:57)

Practicing gratitude enhances well-being by focusing on positive aspects of our lives. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude correlates with decreased symptoms of depression, anxiety, and anger, increased use of positive coping strategies, and lower rates of caregiver burden. This section describes ways to practice gratitude each day.

Taking Breaks (27:58-29:09)

Sometimes the best method to promote positive and respectful interactions, rather than reacting with anger, is to take a break. Walking to a different room or a private space can give you a peaceful environment to take a break away from the stressful situation. Use this time to collect your thoughts, regain your composure, and use mental reframing strategies.

Identify Triggers (29:10-30:48)

Identifying the source of stress is an important first step in coping with negative feelings. You must:

  • Identify your physical and emotional responses to stress
  • Identify what events or environments trigger these feelings
  • Identify actions to cope with these stresses and feelings

Personal Wellness Plan (30:49- 32:14)

Occupational therapists created a personal wellness plan that not only helps people visualize their triggers, emotional responses, and actions, but also helps you categorize emotional responses in terms of green, yellow, orange, and red zones.

Asking for Help (32:15-34:30)

Often caregivers feel guilty or inadequate when asking for help. However, it is important to recognize the changes you have experienced, the additional responsibilities you have taken on, and the new roles you are adjusting to. This section describes ways to ask for help.

Overview and References (34:30-36:29)