By: Ashley Callaway
Coping with a spinal cord injury can be challenging. It is a big change in your life, and there are ways to keep going in life and continue doing things you enjoy. You must learn about coping and which strategy will work best for you and your lifestyle. There are so many strategies out there that are just waiting for you to try them, but here are a few that worked for many other people with spinal cord injuries. Remember, you are not alone in the journey. Various strategies and resources are available to help you adapt and lead a fulfilling life.
Build a support network: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, and other individuals who can offer emotional support or assist you with daily tasks when needed. Joining a support group or connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges can provide a sense of community. David Kohl (5 years post-injury) said “I try to remember what life was like before my injury because although I have a disability does not mean I am limited. Thinking about life before reminds me that I did not allow limitations in my life before, and I will not let this obstacle limit me now.” The United Spinal Association Northeast Ohio Chapter is in the Cleveland area. They are a support group that regularly offers virtual meetings and social hours to discuss topics such as injury support, caregiver information, daily life, and more. They also have a peer mentor program and community event ticket program to increase their community and help others who need support.
Find more information on www.usaneo.org
Educate yourself and others: Learn as much as you can about your condition, available treatments, resources, and research trials. Knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and advocate for your needs. Educating those around you about spinal cord injuries can foster understanding and support. Learning more about your injury and condition will help you determine what your version of healthy should be and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle by focusing on proper nutrition, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. Follow your healthcare plan recommended by your provider, and do not be afraid to reach out and ask questions if you are unsure about your plan. A healthcare plan is designed you help you live a fulfilling and healthy life, and you cannot do that if you do not ask questions. *If you are interested in research, go to www.scitrial.org and find out more information*
Engage in emotional well-being; Taking care of your mental and emotional health is essential. Consider trying different techniques such as journaling, meditation, or mindfulness, which can help manage stress and promote better well-being. Also, talking to a trained professional who has the tools to guide you through the emotional aspects of adjusting to life with a spinal cord injury helps keep your mental health strong. These techniques can help you stay positive and set goals for yourself. Establishing short-term and long-term goals that align with your abilities and aspirations can assist with mental and emotional well-being because you are working towards something you are passionate about. William Jackson said, “I feel that your mind has to be strong to cope with this unfortunate situation. You must be a strong individual mentally. After some time has passed, you must be creative and reestablish yourself into an everyday routine. You must stay positive looking forward and stay mobile. Be sure to celebrate achievements along the way and maintain a positive mindset. Remember that adaptation takes time, and it is possible for more progress to be made.