Experiencing a spinal cord injury is an event that is guaranteed to change your life. Facing the challenges of everyday living can become a confusing and frustrating experience. With effects that touch on your relationships, employment, recreation, and routine; coping with a spinal cord injury is essential to leading a fulfilling life.
Coping with your spinal cord injury will take support, time, and dedication – but it is absolutely possible. We’ve gathered 10 methods for coping with your spinal cord injury that will help you get the most out of your life.
- Deal with Your Grief – Experiencing grief over a spinal cord injury is to be expected. Ignoring your grief isn’t healthy, instead you should try to work through it with understanding. It is totally normal to feel denial, sadness, and anger – the true test is how you work through it.
- Talk About It – Isolation often leads to depression, so it is important to have people you can talk with honestly and openly. You can find friends, family, clergy, or support groups that are willing to lend a listening ear. The Reeve Foundation offers tools for finding mentors and support groups here.
- Learn – Knowledge is empowering. By learning about your injury, coping methods, and related issues you can move take control of your experience. Taking the time to learn will also empower you to help others on their own journey.
- Exercise – Regular exercise is a power tool for everyone – regardless of their injury history. It helps to lower stress while providing positive physical results. After a spinal cord injury, your exercise routine will look different – but the concepts are all the same.
- Help Others – Your unique experience and perspective means you have something to offer to others. By spending time to help others cope with similar injuries, you also help build up your own confidence. Consider volunteering, mentoring, or joining a support group. Again, the Reeve Foundation offers helpful resources (here).
- Stay Positive – While this advice is probably overused, it remains true. Slipping into negative thinking is easy to do when you’re faced with a spinal cord injury. Instead stay positive by celebrating your achievements – even the small ones. By avoiding “I can’t” and focusing on patiently achieving your goals you can stay positive in difficult times.
- Develop Your Interests – A spinal cord injury changes your life – but you are still the same person. While an SCI brings challenges and difficulties, it also brings opportunity to pursue your interests and passions in new ways.
- Give Yourself Time – There will be a temptation to want immediate results. But know that the journey toward coping with your injury is going to be a lifelong process. Make sure you’re giving yourself time to work through the complex emotions that come along with a spinal cord injury. Coping with both mental and physical issues take time – so be patient!
- Get in a Routine – Work toward establishing a routine as early as possible. Creating a clear schedule early on will allow you to focus your energy on other areas of your life. A regular bowel care program and medication schedule will go a long way toward simplifying your life and minimizing frustrations.
- Take Your Own Journey – While articles like this are helpful, you need to walk your own journey. The struggles, challenges, and victories will be unique for everyone – so don’t let others tell you what you should feel or think. That is for you, and you alone, to determine.
Coping with the difficulties of a spinal cord injury will never be easy, but it is far from impossible. Hopefully this list is helpful, but this process is yours to own. Take what works for you and discard the rest; because no one knows you like you. Through honest dealing with yourself and your relationships, this difficulty can be faced head on.