Living with a disability can be a challenging and life-changing experience for all individuals. However, there are many strategies and coping mechanisms that can be adopted to adapt to a new lifestyle filled with positive mental health and wellbeing. Below are 5 ways that target different audiences and interests for an inclusive guide on how to keep happy and healthy while living with a disability.
1. Give yourself time to accept and make adjustments to your everyday life
Coming to terms with your disability, which inevitably includes planning out a different life from the one you may have originally envisioned for yourself may be a challenge. However, you must remember that you are still in control of your needs and desires, and be aware of the sense of strength and empowerment that will continue to flourish as you move forward with your life. To aid with this, a few ideas to be aware of are to:
- Set realistic goals and reasonable expectations for the near future
- Take advantage of what you are able to do, and do not focus on what you cannot do
Be aware of your own emotions and thoughts, and don’t try to suppress them or avoid them, but rather recognize that they are normal as a result of the challenging circumstances that you are facing.
You are the most familiar with your own requirements which stem from your disability, and as such can begin to make certain modifications.
This may include aspects such as:
- NDIS funded home modifications, for example making your living space wheelchair accessible or creating more space to move around the area
- Hiring an NDIS cleaner, gardener, transporter, etc. to decrease the unnecessary and tedious tasks of your day to day life
- Hiring an NDIS support provider to aid you in your everyday life to prevent unwanted stress or overwhelming emotions
2. Take time out for yourself
Ensure that you are still able to indulge yourself in the simple pleasures of life to assist in clearing your mind and improving mental health and wellbeing. These can be simple tasks such as
- Using a facemask while soaking in a warm bath
- Going for a massage
- Playing video games or watching your favorite movies
- Meditating (there are plenty of apps, such as Headspace or YouTube videos which make this process simple and relaxing)
- Listen to some relaxing music
3. Keep in contact with those around you
Even though you may not feel like connecting with the outside world after your life has changed, it is important to stay in contact with your regular friends. This will allow you to regain a sense of control and pleasures in your life by partaking in activities you would normally have been doing. This can be easily done in many ways, such as
- Meeting your friends at the local pub for a few drinks and jokes
- Catching the latest episode of your favorite series with a friend
- Give your mates a call or shoot them a message and catch up on each others’ lives
Another way to form and strengthen connections is by joining a support group of individuals near you who may share similar disabilities and challenges that you are facing. By joining a support group,
- Your feelings will not be judged, but rather validated by those around you, allowing you to feel comfortable and secure within a tight-knit community
- You will feel a sense of belonging to a group of individuals going through the same struggles as you
- You are able to hear about other experiences from those around you, reminding you that you are not alone in this journey
- Support groups are the perfect place to share struggles, solutions to those struggles, and words of praise and encouragement
4. Partake in activities that give you a sense of purpose
It is important that you do not give up activities that give you a sense of purpose in society and in the world, and not let your disability consume your thoughts and sense of identity. Instead, partake in activities of your choosing to renew your sense of purpose and passion for what is around you. This can take place in many forms
- Volunteering: Choose a foundation that you are passionate about, or want to give back to, donating either your time or money to a worthy cause. This can range from simply donating money on a regular basis, or visiting in-person to perform tasks and assisting the charity of your choosing.
- Find a hobby: Finding a hobby or regaining interest in an old one can reignite feelings of worth and purpose, as it provides you with an enjoyable way to pass the time. You can also learn more about yourself and who you truly are from partaking in a hobby. Some examples of hobbies may be:
- Learning a new instrument or picking up an old one
- Redecorating your surroundings
- Writing stories
- Painting and drawing
- Get a pet: By looking after a living creature other than yourself, you will come away from every day with a sense of purpose and achievement, of being able to support your pet and giving them the best possible life. Pets also undeniably bring a sense of companionship and joy to one’s life.
5. Find a job to occupy yourself
Despite living with a disability, it is important that you keep yourself occupied. Furthermore, it can be extremely beneficial to still earn your own money to support yourself and your own lifestyle. There are many organizations that assist disabled individuals in finding a career that suits their requirements and conditions:
Even though it may be a type of life that deviates from what those around you may be living, your disability does not define who you are and certainly should not make you forget about your unique identity, interests, and capabilities. Remember that you are stronger than your disability and as Dylan Alcott, an Australian paralympic gold medalist once said, “that just because you are disabled it’s not a life sentence, your life’s not over, there’s still so many things that you can do to get out there and live a happy and successful life.”