All massive change in life comes with its challenges. This is especially true of changes we view unfavorably, such as becoming disabled. However, millions of less-abled people worldwide not only cope, but thrive. It can be a long road paved with a range of emotions and realizations, but you can make it when you keep these six tips in mind.
1. Don’t attempt to control or conceal your emotions.
Sad? Certainly. Angry? You bet. During this time, you should never feel as though you’re required to “get over” or “move past” what you’ve lost. You also shouldn’t be surprised if your emotions cycle rapidly. Do your best to accept each feeling and speak about it with someone who really listens.
2. Embrace your new tools.
At first, you might be very frustrated with your new wheelchair, cane, crutches, or any other aid required to function optimally while disabled. Find yourself in a place where you can begin practicing how to use your aid to the best of your ability. This alone can open up your new world, as you eventually find that you can and will begin to take advantage of new skills.
3. Engage in new activities.
As soon as possible, replace your old, unsuitable hobbies with new ones. This not only distracts you from feelings of worry and helplessness, but improves your confidence and strengthens your new skills. Hopefully, there’s a new physical activity you can take up to relieve stress. If you need ideas, look to the next step for inspiration.
4. Seek out stories of people just like you.
While you may feel uniquely heartbroken, there have been others before you who have gone through this. After all, it is estimated that one in five Americans live with a disability. Some of them have accomplished truly amazing things. Seek out people with conditions similar to yours and examine what they’ve done to move on.
5. Practice mindfulness.
The past might be full of memories of what you lost. The future is full of worries about how you’ll continue on. While it’s unreasonable to expect that you can completely avoid these thoughts, make the present a bigger priority.
All you need to practice mindfulness is a little patience and focus, which you’ll strengthen over time. Practice staying completely present in the moment, noting your breath, any sound or movement, any sensation associated with what’s occurring right now – even if it isn’t pleasant.
6. Make life easier.
Not so simple, is it? Actually, eliminating stress is now a step you can afford to take. Free yourself up by meeting with a disability lawyer, letting others handle tasks for you, and figuring out new ways to take on simpler tasks yourself. The entire goal is to not let your disability completely disable your life. This isn’t possible if you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Mental recovery following a disability is just as crucial as anything else. Acceptance takes time. Keep the process moving by becoming acquainted with your new tools, finding new interests that suit your mobility level, looking to others for kindness and inspiration, and doing what you can to remain grounded in the present.