Life can change in the blink of an eye and making the adjustment to living with a permanent disability can be just as shocking.
Transitioning from a life of independence to a life where you may rely on others is no easy feat. But it can be done and there are ways and means of making this transition easier.
What’s important to remember is that you are not alone. In fact, the US Census Bureau estimates that 1 in 5 Americans lives with some form of physical disability.
In this blog, we outline simple ways to improve your mental state and how to regain some independence in order to live your most fulfilling life possible.
Embracing a Life With Physical Limitations
Maybe you’ve been in a life-changing accident, you fell ill or developed a physical disability over time? Whatever the case, this doesn’t mean your life is over.
Sure, it’s easy for people to say you should ”embrace” your new life or ”move on” and not dwell on anger or resentment. But this is far easier said than done.
In this guide, we offer ways to help you thrive, and not just survive while living with a disability.
1. Allow Yourself Time to Grieve
Give yourself time. Time to grieve for the loss you’ve suffered in terms of your health, independence, and plans for the future.
This is a large part of the process of coming to terms with your disability, so suppressing your feelings can only do more harm than good.
Allow yourself to feel the pain of loss, the anger, resentment, sadness, and frustration. Process each emotion as you need and then let it go.
Trust that with time these negative emotions will slowly begin to subside and you’ll be able to move forward with your life.
2. Finding Acceptance
As cliche as this sounds, accepting your disability and a life of physical limitations is your first step to living a life of meaning.
Hanging onto resentment, hurt, anger, and self-pity will you weigh you down and inevitably affect your relationships with those closest to you.
Acceptance, however, is not easy and it may feel like simply ”giving in” to a life of disability. But the reality is that you need to accept your limitations in order to move forward, make new changes and find new life goals.
3. Educate Yourself
This is where you need to become your very own advocate in terms of your rights as a disabled citizen. Being your own advocate will help you to better navigate all the new challenges of life which lay ahead.
Do research on the rights available to you in your workplace and within the healthcare system. As take charge of your life, you will begin to feel empowered and all-the-more independent.
4. Take Advantage of Your Capabilities
Now is the time to focus on the things you can still do without assistance and find ways to reduce the impact of your disability on your everyday life.
Seek out adaptive technologies, movement and walking aids, progressive forms of therapy, prosthetics or cognitive therapies.
Let go of the stigma of relying on these aids, whether it’s a wheelchair or prosthetic limb, they do not define who you are!
5. Set New Goals and Be Patient
Maybe you planned to compete in a triathlon or cycle around Europe? If those goals are no longer realistic, it’s time to find new ones. Or find ways to adapt to them.
Learning to live with a disability will force you to learn new skills and strategies for coping. Apply these new skills to your new way of life and set goals based on this. Remember to be patient when setting your new goals and set realistic timelines.
6. Look After Important Relationships
When learning to live with a disability you may feel more inclined to withdraw and pull away from those closest to you. This is because you may feel alone, misunderstood and depressed.
These feelings are completely natural, but this is the worst thing you could do for your recovery. Try to talk about how you feel, remain open with your loved ones and stay connected where you can.
It’s important to nurture your close relationships rather than neglect them as these are the people who have, and will, see you through your darkest times.
7. Join a Support Group
If you are struggling to open up and feel comfortable around your loved ones, joining a support group can truly help you to ”find your place”.
This is one of the best ways to overcome loneliness and feelings of being misunderstood or isolated. Ultimately, support group members understand your feelings and will be able to empathize with you.
It will help you to realize you are not alone and you’ll be able to benefit from the shared wisdom and experiences with the group.
8. Learn to Ask For Help
This is a big one and may be one of the most difficult aspects of accepting life with a physical disability. Asking for help does not make you weak, it does not make a burden.
Failing to ask for help could delay your progress both physically and emotionally, just making life more difficult for you and your support network.
Let go of the idea that asking for help encourages pity. Instead, remember that asking for help makes you brave as it signifies that you want to improve your life.
9. Nurture Your Mental Health
In the same vein of asking for help, there’s no shame in seeking out the assistance of a mental health professional.
Having a third-party person to talk to about your feelings can make the world of difference to your mental state and how you cope with your disability.
Having this outside perspective can help you work through grief and reframe your outlook on life in a more positive, realistic way.
10. Find Hobbies That Give Your Life Meaning
In order to live a fulfilling life with a physical disability, you may need to completely reframe your identity.
Your disability may leave you to question who you are, what you actually enjoy, what you value most in life etc.
This is the best time to look closely at these values and reshape them if you need to. In doing so, make sure to fill your time with things that give your life real meaning.
Some of these new hobbies may include volunteering, finding ways to reciprocate the love and support you receive, adapting old hobbies or adopting a pet.
You may want to enlist yourself in a counseling program to help others or go back to school and learn something new! Your life is yours, take charge of it and make it your own.
Simplify Your Life With Paldrop
Looking for simple life hacks to make your days a little more productive, efficient and stress-free? Paldrop offers articles, tips, and tricks to help you achieve your goals.
Don’t let your physical limitations hold you back, live your best life with the help of Paldrop!