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When Nothing Goes Right...Go Left!

"It's a marathon, not a sprint" is a phrase you will become all too familiar with. It can become frustrating, and there can be some low days. This is when you need to keep going; if you're doing regular rehab exercises all the time, you will burn out quickly and lose interest. 

If you are having a rough time, don't hide at home. Do anything you find fun (sports, cooking, cinema, gaming etc ). In all likelihood, this will be related to your rehab in some way, either physically or cognitively. It's also important to take time out, maybe plan a day out with friends or start planning a holiday if you're feeling up to it. I like to give myself things to look forward to, from a new TV show I want to watch to going shopping or planning something to do. I've booked to go and see The Lion King in London at the end of March. This will be fun but a major test as it's my first time at a busy public venue since my stroke.

Find something to do that helps you relax when you are feeling down. I have the TV or radio on in the background when I'm doing something, as I find silence makes any negative thoughts more intrusive. I also have the concentration span of a goldfish, so I make sure I take regular breaks and lessen the chances that I get frustrated when I struggle to do something. My "easy day" tends to be Friday as I have swimming and Pilates on Thursday, so I do a bare minimum of regular-style rehab the next day. Rest is crucial for brain injury recovery, and taking small breaks works best for me. Not only do I have a short concentration span, but I also don't have the best patience levels, and I get annoyed at myself quite easily. Doing something in short bursts and having five minutes to concentrate on something else lessens the chance of frustration setting in.

Don't get tired, as things can become overwhelming, and you can quickly feel like you're floundering. If I don't rest, I am zonked by the end of the day, and anything I have done hasn't been as beneficial as it could have been. 

The biggest advice I can give for motivation is to try not to let the "recovery is a marathon and small gains" attitude get you down. Remaining as chilled out and open-minded as possible will be of the most benefit to you. It's something I'm still trying to teach myself, and my marathon started in August 2022 when I began rehab. On the low days, I have to motivate myself even more, as this tends to be when the lack of patience and general annoyance kick in! It's difficult and may sound strange, but the slower you go, the easier it is to remain motivated. 

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