In my profession, I often encounter individuals with acquired disabilities who experience isolation and loss of self-identity after an accident or life-changing diagnosis. Perhaps you are initially told that you are unable to participate in certain hobbies for a period of time, activities that made you, “you”. Or maybe you enjoyed having conversations and time together with friends and family, but now are concerned about changes in your speech; keeping up with changes in topic; or you simply find the whole interactive process too overwhelming.
These experiences and onset of new emotions are further exacerbated by the physical distance inflicted upon us by the current pandemic. So how do you get out of that hole?
Getting back into the steady flow of life following an injury or new diagnosis can take time - it’s a life-long process that ebbs and flows. A large part of that process is dependent upon you being open to developing a sense of awareness and introspection about what you need at certain times in order to show up for yourself when it counts. Doing so doesn’t necessarily “fix” your challenges, but it allows you to view them - and perhaps encounter them - differently than you have before.
One way that I have been trying to support the needs of the individuals I work with is by incorporating mindfulness into daily routines. Mindfulness is essentially the practice of being present in the moment. We often go about daily life trying to get tasks done and worrying about factors outside of our control. Before you know it, you’re on autopilot from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Or maybe it’s the opposite for you - you are existing, but are not really experiencing or engaging in your life because you feel as if you can’t or don’t want to.
As with everything else in life, you need balance. To overextend yourself or retreat from life’s activities can both lead to disengagement with the things you love. Here are some activities that I have suggested to others - and have used myself - to work on being more mindful and present. Remember, practice increases your comfort level, especially when attempting activities that are new and unfamiliar. Tweak these ideas as you see fit. Mindfulness is not one-size fits all!
How do you intend to show up for yourself this year? Let CSL know if you are using any of these mindfulness tips, or share your own. Leave a comment below!
Devon Brunson, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS
Welcome to the CSL Blog - musings about treatment, education, care, and advocacy.