We are all being asked to follow advice on staying safe, which for many of us includes staying home and away from other people. 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 are going through.
So for stroke survivors, being asked to stay away from other people might feel like a lot to deal with. It could also be tricky to work out if your emotions are due to stroke, or worry around coronavirus (COVID-19).
We’ve got some tips here about how to manage when you’re staying at home. We also give links to more information on our website about emotional changes and other stroke topics 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
Feelings of isolation
Read our advice on managing feelings of isolation. This includes tips on staying in touch with family and friends, and how to meet other stroke survivors online.
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. Our ideas for keeping in touch and meeting others affected by stroke could help you by letting you share stories and get reassurance from others. 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.
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
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 coronavirus (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.
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: