Grounding Techniques for Stroke Recovery

Recovery from a stroke, like any major life event, brings a considerable amount of challenges that may seem insurmountable. In my own stroke recovery, I’ve discovered that grounding techniques allow me to accept the reality of my situation—acknowledging the hard stuff—and uncover subtle blessings of my new reality. Although it is true that “time takes time”, this personal exploration is aimed at coping, and moreover, thriving amidst adversity.

Grounding Techniques for Acceptance

My stroke left me with a mild language and memory cognitive disorder, daily vestibular migraines, PPPD (3PD – Persistent postural-perceptual dizziness), and an emotional mountain to climb. Recognizing and accepting the story of my stroke and its impacts on my life has been a multi-year process. It’s tempting to let my mind wander into what-ifs, but this only colors my self-talk with fear and sadness. Depression feels like a powerful magnet and only by doing the work in recovery can I protect myself from its pull.

In this delicate phase of my life, I’ve found that my mood significantly influences how I perceive my recovery. The story changes in my head based on how I feel each day, and it’s a slippery slope from there into fear and despair. That’s why maintaining a factual, present-focused mindset is so critical. Each day, I take a moment to review the facts: I had a stroke, I live with certain impairments now, and yes, there are fears and sadness that accompany these facts. But by naming these fears daily and seeking the blessings, I create a balanced narrative that fosters hope rather than despair.

Grounding in Daily Life

One technique I’ve found particularly helpful is a daily review. This brief exercise involves pausing to acknowledge the realities of my condition, such as vision impairment, chronic migraines, and cognitive challenges. Identifying and naming my fears each day helps me time-box my worries to the present moment, preventing them from sprawling into an indefinite future.

It takes action to keep my feet firmly planted and tether my mind to where my feet are. The link between our physical and the emotional well-being cannot be understated. Grounding techniques, which I’ve learned over the years through my sobriety journey, have played a pivotal role to anchor me to the present and prevent my thoughts from future-tripping into anxiety about what tomorrow holds.

Grounding Techniques That Help

  1. Mental Grounding: Engaging in mental exercises like listing types of flowers or sports teams helps refocus my mind away from distressing thoughts.
  2. Physical Grounding: Simple actions like digging my heels into the floor or grabbing a small garden shovel and digging in to my garden can help release physical tension and anchor my thoughts.
  3. Soothing Grounding: Visualizing loved ones or serene places helps evoke feelings of peace and stability.
  4. Somatic Grounding: Identifying calm places on my body—even if it’s just the tip of my toe—can bring a surprising amount of relief.

Staying Grounded

Each day, these grounding techniques help me recognize that although my physical capabilities have changed, I’m still the same person I was before my stroke. Albeit emotionally disruptive as well, I have a new set of challenges and an abrupt change to my trajectory. Grounding techniques allow me to gradually replace fear and sadness with positive thoughts. By staying grounded, I can cultivate a mindset geared towards emotional healing and hope. Through this blog and my podcast, I aim to extend that same hope to others facing similar battles, proving that even in our most challenging moments, there’s a path forward filled with blessings.