Managing Your Anxiety When Learning New Skills with a New Physical Disability
Updated: Nov 17
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
After a new physical disability, many clients talk about how it feels like they are learning everything all over again. Daily tasks - such as getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom, brushing teeth, bathing, dressing, preparing meals, eating, etc. - do not come so easily after a new physical disability and can take time to learn in a different way.
For some, heightened anxiety can be very common in this new life phase. Being patient with yourself and with your current physical abilities can help you maintain good mental health while developing your skills and independence.
Below are some examples of anxious thoughts - and some alternatives - that might help you cope a little better. See if any of these statements relate to you. Feel free to substitute your own anxious and alternative thoughts that more closely match the words, phrases, and sentiments that ring true to you. Reflect on how the shift in thoughts can change how you think, feel, and act when the time comes to try or practice a specific skill.
I can’t do anything → I’m doing everything I possibly can right now
I should be capable of doing this → My body isn’t the same as before
I’ll never be able to do it → I need to be patient with myself
I won’t be good at it → I’ll get better with practice
I don’t understand what to do → I can ask my healthcare team questions
I’m not making progress → I’m still healing and need to give it time
I have to keep going or I’ll lose momentum → It’s ok to take breaks
I’m overwhelmed → I can focus on one piece of one goal for today
I can’t do this alone → Knowing who and when to ask for help is important
I’m worried about my future → Staying in the here and now helps calm me
By tackling new skills with this mindset, you may experience less anxiety. You may also find a greater sense of acceptance of where you are at right now as you move forward in your life.
Keeping an open mind, giving yourself credit for small achievements, practicing self-compassion, reducing the pressure you put on yourself and recognizing that the goal is to make progress rather than to be perfect can help you approach this crucial stage of learning and growth in a healthy way.
Wishing you well on your mental health journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT
Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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