People often tell us that they feel isolated after having a stroke. This can be in a physical sense, if you can’t go out and do the things you enjoy. It can also be emotional, if you feel other people don’t understand what you're going through.

Many stroke survivors may wish to stay away from other people, even now that restrictions are lifting. This can feel like a lot to deal with. It can also be tricky to work out if your emotions are due to stroke, or the ongoing situation with Covid-19.

Here, we share some tips on how to cope if you're feeling isolated and alone. We also give links to more information on our website about emotional changes, and other information about stroke that might help you.

Stroke and your emotions

Everyone’s experience of stroke is unique, but feeling emotional, anxious or low is common, especially in the first few weeks after a stroke. These feelings are quite normal. As time goes by, things can improve as you begin to come to terms with what has happened. Fatigue and sleeping problems can reduce your energy levels and motivation.

Some feelings are due to emotional changes, but they can also have a physical cause such as changes to your brain or the effects of medication.

Coping with staying at home

Be active

Moving and being active can help to improve low mood and anxiety. It can also help your recovery, and reduce fatigue. You can read our advice about moving around and being active in your home, including ideas for chair-based movement. And have a look at our page of ideas for things to do in your home, including games, writing, art and gardening.

Avoid falls in your home
Read our advice about improving balance and avoiding falls. This includes the causes of balance problems, like medication and vision problems.

Stroke and relationships
A stroke can put a strain on your relationships with family, friends, and your partner. And being restricted from having visitors or going out could add extra stress. You can also read our advice about sex and relationships, which includes tips on reducing anxiety, and communicating with your partner.  

If you’re living with someone who shows abusive behaviour such as being controlling or using physical force against you, you can seek help from Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. If you’re in danger, call 999.

Managing the effects of your stroke

Sleep and fatigue 

Stroke can cause fatigue, or long-lasting tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest. You might have sleep problems, which can also be due to worry or anxiety. Trying to be more active can give you more energy and help to improve sleep. We have information about fatigue, and you can try these tips if you are having trouble sleeping
 
Behaviour changes

A stroke can sometimes lead to someone behaving differently. This can be due to damage in the brain, as well as other things like pain, lack of sleep and emotional changes. Apathy means someone loses interest in things, including their favourite activities. Some people can become angry or aggressive. This could be hard to cope with, whether you are by yourself or if you’re living with others.

You can read our advice about behaviour changes. This includes tips for helping with apathy and dealing with inappropriate behaviour. You can also call our Helpline 0303 3033 100 for someone to talk to.  

Recovery and effects of stroke

Find out more about the effects of stroke on our website. We provide information on all aspects of stroke including rehabilitation and reducing your risk of another stroke. Useful topics include:  

If your stroke was recent, the effects of your stroke might still be emerging. If you need more help, contact the community stroke team or your GP. If you have any new signs of a stroke, call 999.

More tips for emotional wellbeing

Plan a routine

It can help to have a daily plan. If you have rehabilitation activities to do, include them in your plan. Think about things you are able to do in your home. This could include useful activities like cleaning or cooking, as well as fitness and relaxation. If you’re working from home, look for ideas on managing your day. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself – remember to take breaks, and rest if you need to. 

Do things you enjoy

Read our advice on hobbies and leisure activities you can try at home. This includes tips on what to do if a stroke means you can’t do your favourite activities.

Control your news intake

It’s good to be connected with current events, but some people feel overwhelmed by the news on Covid-19. If you feel that stories about the virus are adding to your anxiety or low mood, try to set a limit on how often you check the news. Stick to media sources you trust, and the NHS or gov.uk for the latest guidance on what to do.

Nature

Bring nature into your everyday life. This could include opening the windows for fresh air, looking at your favourite nature photos, listening to natural sounds, like birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall. Get as much natural light as you can. Spend time in your garden if you have one or take a virtual tour of Central Park in New York.

Read more tips about wellbeing from: