Wheelchair User? Here Are Some Confidence Tips For You
If you are a new wheelchair user, or even a well-seasoned one confidence matters. Wheelchairs take some time to get used to, and it might be a unique style of chair or your very first wheelchair.
For many, a wheelchair is a massive quality of life improvement. Being able to do simple things like shopping, or getting some fresh air – provided they are accessible for wheelchairs.
Here are some confidence tips that can make your wheelchair experience more enjoyable and more comfortable too!
What is confidence?
When you talk about confidence, you are talking about being sure of yourself and your abilities. In a secure way, that is not over-inflated or feeling superior. It is about feeling secure in who you are and what you do. Typical confidence comes with knowledge and practice.
Confidence is something that takes time to build up. Certainly when it comes to something new, in this case, a wheelchair. It might be that circumstances have required you to use a wheelchair, or it might be that you are moving from a manual wheelchair to an electric wheelchair.
Take Your Time
You have to learn to ride a motorbike, to cycle a bike or drive a car. In some cases driving a wheelchair takes time too! You might see people making it look like a breeze, but they have probably had some experience and are now experts. When it comes to your first wheelchair or upgrading to an electric wheelchair, there are going to be a couple of moments that you need to be prepared for:
- You might bump into walls.
- Sometimes wheels get stuck.
- Some potholes are much larger than they look.
- You may need to ask people to move or help.
It’s all part of the learning process, so take your time, and you will get there. If you want to get some practice in, then see if you have access to a wider open space. Practice using the controls, or handling the wheels.
Make sure that your wheelchair fits well. Depending on your mobility levels, you might take some things into consideration. For example, if you wish to lift your arm to get a cup, or if you are prone to backache. Get a chair that fits your life and body. And electric chair often comes with a wider range of options and even an elevated seat option. See what makes the most sense to your needs – and find a wheelchair that fits your life. Remember that you can ask for adjustments and certainly should.
It’s an adventure
Once you are more comfortable with the controls and the fit of your wheelchair, then you need to belt up. Surprise drop curbs, unexpectedly steep descents, and your wheels will sip into every pot in the pavement. Over time you will get more used to many of these things, but you should be prepared to learn how to navigate a whole range of things. But don’t worry, you can handle them all – no problems!
There are so many people that are going to want to help you. It is up to you how you decide to tackle these situations. Some people are happy to have a door opened for them, and help to navigate through. Others want minimal help – if any at all. There will also be some people that stare as if they have never seen a wheelchair before. Over time this will become less obvious and less noticeable for you. Assumptions by others can be irritating, but most people are trying to help.
That said, if you do need help, then ask.
What to wear
Your wheelchair gives you license to be creative with what you wear. You might be worried that there are some things that just won’t work – but you might be surprised! Everything you buy, you should think about how it would look when you are sitting down. Part of the issue here is that almost all clothing brands don’t use wheelchair models, which makes it difficult to see how an item of clothing will fit. Over time you will learn what looks great on you, and you can experiment with different materials and styles until you are happy.
If at first, you don’t manage to navigate the curb – try a different time again. Accepting and enjoying your wheelchair as part of you takes time and perseverance. It is really much the ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude that will help you. There might be some occasions where you aren’t noticed in a queue, or missed out of things. Over time your confidence to speak up and make sure you are known and see is going to be key to getting what you need. Wheelchairs are usually half the height of a non-wheelchair user. You’ll be more aware of the people are you, than they will be of you for quite some time.
You might be working with a physiotherapist on your mobility and exercising, in which case, make sure you always turn up to appointments and give 100% – even when you don’t feel like it. Exercise is great for the body, but it can do more for our mental health than you might realise.
Looking after your mental health by way of keeping active will give you confidence that you are treating your body well.
There may also need to be some adjustments to your diet. In many cases working with a nutritionist means you will get the best balance of nutrients and supporting vitamins and minerals for your diet.
Every person benefits from moving when and how possible, and a healthy and balanced diet.
You’re still AWESOME.
One of the issues that people who use a wheelchair face is that they look at what they feel they can’t do, rather than what you can do, and do well. There are several talents and skills that remain unchanged. And, those that have changed can be adapted for.
If you used to run every morning, but now you are unable to run, it is still possible for you to travel the same path and enjoy the views and fresh air.
Look at what you do well, and see where you can make adaptions should you need to. It is very easy to slip into a negative mindset during lifechanging times, but focusing on how awesome you are can help you get through that.
Goals can help us remain focused. In fact, each time that you meet a goal, you get a boost of confidence and self-esteem. While your hobbies and career may change somewhat, setting goals is essential. The loss of former goals can hit quite hard, and it can even feel like mourning what could’ve been. However, you have new criteria in which to work with.
Creating a new pathway for your life can be exciting, and the new challenges can provide a lot of purposes.
Here are some useful questions to ask yourself when you start thinking about your new goals:
- What are your career goals from this point forward?
- Have you got any hobbies that need modification, or something new you’d like to try?
- What makes you happy, what do you enjoy?
- Is there anything that you would like to learn?
Once you have set the initially larger goal, you can then break that down into smaller goals. It has been shown that every time a person develops a goal, they have focus, a path, and a purpose. All of these things feed into the cultivation and nourishment of confidence.
The purpose is one of the things that give us comfort and confidence. Knowing that you are of value to yourself, your community, and those around you will raise your self-esteem and confidence levels. And reaching goals will keep them high.
If you find that you have a little extra time on your hands, then you can spend that time researching more about your style of a wheelchair. The different options that you may have available to you in the future. You can look for groups and activities in the local area, as well as paths that are suitable for wheelchair users. The research will increase your knowledge levels and is one of the pillars of confidence.
There might be times where you need someone to talk to in order to move forward. There are support groups and the option of talking therapy too. It can help to seek the support of those outside of your family and friends group, as you are often able to speak your truth a little bit more.
When you spend time with people from different backgrounds but with similar current circumstances, you can get a fresh perspective on how you can move forward.
Like everything in life, the more you do something, and the more you learn about it – the more comfortable and confident you will be in your own abilities. It is “normal” to have a range of feelings and trepidation when circumstances change. However, by following some of the tips above, you are more likely to see your confidence in yourself and your wheelchair usage increase.