You may have heard that my dear father suffered a stroke recently. This occurred while I was in the middle of releasing my new book, Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health, launching new business initiatives, doing the mom thing, and running my very busy practice.
Talk about stress!
Everything – and I mean everything – was coming at me all at once. Could the medical professional and stress expert in me roll with it all?
I’m pleased to say “YES” I was resilient to every one of those out-of-my-control stressors, and the bonus is that my dad is recovering nicely from his stroke too.
All of this leads me to this week’s topic: What You Need to Know About Stress, Stroke Prevention, and Recovery.
First, I want to proudly acknowledge the courage and inspiration that my father exemplifies.
He is fighting each day and doing all he can to heal. My dad is learning to walk and talk again and I’m doing everything possible to help him recover.
You can hear more about my dad’s story in my recent podcast episode, Stroke and Recovery Burnout with Dr. Doni (Ep. 109)
The simple definition of a stroke is when either a blood clot or a bleeding blood vessel decreases blood flow to the brain. Sadly, stroke happens to be the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. However, strokes do not always lead to death, but they can leave a person immobilized – permanently changed physically, mentally, and emotionally.
For those who survive a stroke, they are likely to experience decreased mobility and long-term disability, especially when over the age of 65.
The Stress Factor
Stress is unavoidable. Like me, you very likely have work demands, family issues, finances, and health concerns. And the past few years haven’t helped our stress and anxiety levels any either.
There’s just so much uncertainty in our lives.
Without the right understanding and know-how, that stress is going to catch up with you increasing inflammation in your arteries and eventually damaging and narrowing your blood vessels which then decreases blood flow to your brain.
This makes it easier for blood clots to form, or for blood vessels to leak or burst, triggering a stroke.
Simply put, the combination of stress and high adrenaline (I’m looking at you, America) is resulting in a high blood pressure epidemic that is rapidly increasing the risk of stroke.
You may not have thought of stress as a contributor to stroke but the evidence is in, and the results are grim. A research study published by the American Heart Association’s indicates that even a slight increase in stress and anxiety levels may raise stroke risk.
Researchers followed more than 6,000 people over 22 years to determine how stress and anxiety affects the risk of stroke.
Study participants who reported the highest stress levels were 33% more likely to have a stroke than those who felt less anxious or stressed. The greater the anxiety level, the higher the stroke risk, but even modest increases raised stroke risk.
Higher levels of stress and depressive symptoms were linked to an increased risk of what’s called “incident stroke” or TIA (transient ischemic attacks) in middle-aged and older adults. Source: National Library of Medicine
A TIA can serve as both a warning of a future stroke and an opportunity to prevent it.
The statistics tell the story:
- Approximately 15% of all strokes are foretold by a TIA.
- Among patients treated for a blockage-related stroke (ischemic), between 7 – 40% report experiencing a TIA first.
- About 1/3 of people who have a TIA go on to have a more severe stroke within one year.
TIAs are caused by a clot or blockage in the brain. The blockage is short term. The clot usually dissolves on its own or it gets dislodged, and the symptoms usually last less than five minutes.
Although anyone can have a TIA, the risk of getting one increases with age. If you’ve previously had a stroke, pay careful attention to the signs of TIA, because they could signal a second stroke in your future.
The signs and symptoms of a TIA resemble those found early in a stroke. Like a stroke, the signs and symptoms usually begin suddenly. Most people experiencing a TIA will experience confusion, trouble speaking, dizziness and loss of balance. Additional symptoms may include numbness on one side of the body and a severe headache with no none cause.
Stress Recovery and Stroke Prevention
While you’re trying to handle the stress that life throws your way, your adrenal glands tend to get stuck in “stress mode” producing too much OR too little cortisol and adrenaline at the wrong time of day or night.
If you’re ready to get serious about stress recovery, you first need to know how your body responds to stress so that you can then give yourself the correct recovery treatment.
For example, your cortisol could be too high, or too low, at different times of day. And your adrenaline could be too high or too low too. I caution you not to assume that everyone has the same response to stress as you do.
This is more than your immediate response to stress. It’s about how stress affects you over time. When you are in stress mode, and experiencing symptoms, you need to know your cortisol and adrenaline levels and if you are experiencing adrenal distress.
The best way to start stress recovery, is by understanding your unique stress type. Take the quick stress quiz, to learn more. The test is free, so there’s no excuse not to take it.
TAKE THE FREE STRESS QUIZ TO FIND OUT YOUR STRESS TYPE:
If you’re ready to learn more about stress and adrenal distress, visit this set of resources on my website to tap into additional articles and podcasts, get the adrenal recovery guide, and see which nutritional supplements may be right for you. You can even schedule a call with me from this page.
Below are some stress recovery activities designed to reset the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. These activities also tell the hypothalamus to turn off stress response, so give them a try!
- Use breathwork, meditate or try yoga to increase oxygen to the brain and reset your vagus nerve
- Try calming apps and music to decompress
- Get up and move – exercise is a key anti-stress activity
- Limit your intake of alcohol and don’t smoke
- Make clean eating your new goal in life
- Determine your unique stress type
How to Help the Brain Recover from a Stroke
The best outcomes for stroke recovery occur when a person gets medical assistance quickly so that the brain can begin healing.
Another key component to recovery is repetitive actions, like exercises with high repetition that engage neuroplasticity to create new neural pathways in the brain.
There are a couple of other things that can help with stroke recovery:
- Decrease inflammation in the body
- Listen to music
- Do what you love
- Spend time with loved ones
- Decrease stimulation
Caregivers Need More SelfC.A.R.E.
During these difficult days it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of a loved one’s stroke and subsequent recovery.
It’s at these times that we lose track of ourselves and our own selfcare, ending up in the dangerous burned-out zone.
That’s why I created a 7-Day SelfC.A.R.E. Stress Reset. In these classes I will be teaching you how to prioritize your self-care. I use the acronym C.A.R.E. in the following way:
C = Clean Eating
A = Adequate Sleep
R = Recovery Activities
E = Exercise
These four SelfC.A.R.E. activities can be easily integrated into your daily life as a caregiver to help you become resilient to stress.
So many people tell me that while they are caring for a loved one, who has had a stroke or other life-threatening illness, that they have gotten off track with their diet, they’re not sleeping well, or doing any real exercise anymore. They simply don’t know where to begin or how to manage it all.
If I just described what you are experiencing, the online 7-Day SelfC.A.R.E Reset program is for you. It’s perfect if you’re feeling anxious, tired, have digestive issues, skin issues, pain, and/or weight gain.
Stop pushing through and ignoring stress. We know that stress exists so let’s face it head-on.
During our seven days together, I will be teaching you anti-stress techniques and strategies, so that you will be in a better place to provide stroke recovery care for your loved one and selfcare for yourself.
Sound good? Sign up here:
After going through stroke recovery with my dad, as well as my mom 1.5 years ago, my advice to you is to become familiar with the symptoms of a stroke. You need to be able to help identify stroke symptoms in your loved one so you can get them immediate help.
You will find the common symptoms of a stroke listed below, but based on what my parents experienced, I would add to the list:
- Change in behavior
- Unusual quietness (not speaking or not answering questions)
I’m still in the middle of these uncertain days with my dad, so I want you to know that I understand and I want to show you how to thrive even under these harrowing and stressful situations.
So, let’s identify and understand your stress type so that you can release, rebalance, and restore your mind and body. It’s all here… just take that first step to recovery and resilience.
31th May 2022
Too many people ignore the signs of stroke because they question whether their symptoms are real. Don’t wait if you have any unusual symptoms. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. If something is off, get help right away.
BE FAST is an acronym created to help you know when to make the call.
B = Loss of BALANCE, headache, or dizziness
E = Blurred vision in EYES
F = One side of the FACE is drooping
A = ARM or leg weakness
S = Difficulty SPEAKING
T = TIME to call 911 for help
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