Coping strategies and resilience

How do I cope with the changes
Disability often has a profound impact on daily living, routines, and relationships. The impact of a disability may be moderated by different coping strategies. Individuals who were interviewed coped with their stroke and associated lifestyle changes in many different ways. Some people felt frustrated, short tempered or emotional and took out their anger on those closest to them although they did not always realise that they are doing this until later. In other cases, a “tug-of- war” occurred between feeling down and frustrated versus feeling grateful for surviving and hopeful for the future. Some individuals noted, that there is “ a danger in life being too easy” and in hindsight, feel that their initial and ongoing struggles with stroke have made them stronger individuals.

Whilst most people discussed the negative impact on their lives some said that they had changed in positive ways too. This included becoming a better person with more humility, looking out more for people with disabilities or older people and having more enthusiasm for life. Other things that helped people with the emotional side of stroke included a determination to get better, or not to let the stroke beat them, and having supportive family and friends.  

Although the frustration often did not go away many people felt that as time passed they coped better and were less likely to get upset.

Some people alluded to sources of inspiration including people who have demonstrated exceptional resilience after a health crisis. In these cases, observing what others overcame created a motivating drive in rehabilitation. Further, an upcoming event such as the birth of a grandchild or an anticipated holiday served as important goal posts.

Setting manageable goals in care
Some individuals spoke about the important of managing expectations and setting reasonable goals in care.

Personalising rehabilitation
In some cases “personalised” rehabilitation techniques (e.g. rehabilitation tied to a hobby or interest) served as a useful coping strategy and facilitated recovery.

Last reviewed June 2017.



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