Goal setting – After a spinal cord injury, you’re likely to have lots of goals, but you may also have lots of uncertainty as you go through rehabilitation. It can be helpful to organise your goals in a way that works for you and think about which ones to focus on first. Keep them small and achievable.
Relaxation and mindfulness – Practice spending a brief amount of time only focusing on the present. Try to put any worries or thoughts aside and concentrate on one thing, whether it’s a meal, or a book, or just closing your eyes and listening.
Routines and healthy living – It can be really helpful to maintain a structure, whether you are in hospital or at home. Try to keep daily living to a similar schedule, and factor in activity, rest and things you enjoy. Make sure you eat well and keep to a sleep routine.
Talk to someone – Try telling someone how you’re feeling, perhaps a family member or friend, a staff member or someone from the Psychology team.
Mindfulness involves being fully aware of what is going on around us, whilst accepting it and not reacting to it. It is a skill that all of us are capable of, but it can take practice if you’re used to doing several things at once, rushing through things, or being emotionally provoked.
You can practice mindfulness with anything, at any time and wherever you are. It can be helpful to regularly schedule time for mindfulness, to manage anxiety or other difficult feelings. Some people describe mindfulness as ‘grounding’, as if taking in everything around us allows us to be calm and return to Earth, instead of being swept up in a chaos of emotions.
Some examples of mindfulness are:
- Body Scan - Sit still and notice your body. Feel where your legs are and what you feel through your feet. Notice where your arms have fallen and what you feel in your hands. Acknowledge the weight of your head and what your back is touching. Watch mindfulness exercise video
- Eat a mindful meal. Turn off the television or move your phone away. Enjoy your food and notice all the different flavours and textures. Take notice of how different foods look.
- Dropping Anchor, this involves switching off from auto-pilot and focusing on the present. It is a simple formula – ACE.
A = acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensation, urges
C = come back into your body; push your feet onto the floor, straighten your body, press your hands together, stretch and breath (this is to connect with your body, not to distract from A)
E = engage in what you’re doing. Notice the things around you and your different senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), give the task at hand your full attention.