Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!
The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness, laughter, and excitement, but with a brain injury, the holidays can be stressful, draining, and just down-right miserable. But, it does not have to be all of these things, you can enjoy your family, your friends, and all of the good food without putting your health and peace of mind at risk. SO, here is the ConcussionBeGone guide to surviving the holiday season(:
Prepare Your Mind
This is one point that I believe is most important and it has everything to do with your attitude and mindset. What attitude are you going to have this holiday season? Do you expect that it will be horrible? Do you expect the worse or are you preparing yourself for the best? You do not have to be overly optimistic, but you can decide that in this holiday season that you will try your best to relax, enjoy your family, while also respecting and honoring your healing journey. I encourage you all to prepare your mindset this holiday for the best, be optimistic, and let go of any negative thoughts that have kept your mind captive. You can enjoy yourself this holiday season. Prepare well and you will.
Have an honest conversation with your family beforehand
Having an honest conversation with your family about where you are in your recovery, as well as how it will affect your participation in the holiday festivities will allow for your family to understand and support you during the holiday season. By opening up, you allow others to help you in the areas that are difficult. By opening up, you no longer carry the burden alone.
Share with your family the things that you need from them in order to make it through the holiday. This could be as simple as telling your husband/wife that you need them to get groceries for dinner or that you may disappear a few times during Christmas dinner for rest. By telling your family, beforehand, what to expect from you and how they can help you will eliminate the annoying questions and/or comments about why you aren’t as active as usual.
Keep it Simple
The biggest mistake that I made during my brain injury recovery was not slow down. I tried to be the same active and vibrant Nicole that I had been before my injury, but it only made my health increasingly worse. When recovering from a brain injury it is important to take it slow, and the holidays are no exception. Keep your days simple and don’t stress yourself out by trying to do and be apart of everything. You can only do, what you can do(:
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
This point hits home for me because I am and have always been a “yes, yes” kind of girl. It is hard for me to say no to people, but like I said in the previous point–you can only do what you can do. Do not stretch and spread yourself thin trying to please family members or friends. Your mental and physical wellbeing is what is most important, especially during this time when you are recovering from such a life-changing injury. Don’t be afraid to say no.
For some people, including myself, it can be very hard to say no. This is why I believe finding alternative activities during the holidays can be so helpful. Talk with your family about doing activities that may be better suited for your injury. This could be instead of going out for a night of karaoke (like my family), we play a board game or have a painting event at home. There are activities that won’t exacerbate your symptoms, find them and make a suggestion to implement them in your holiday activities.
Listen to Your Body
Listening to your body is unbelievably important. If you notice that your symptoms are becoming increasingly exacerbated it may be time for you to take a small break. It may be time for a walk or to sit in a quieter room. Listen to what your body is telling you, it is almost always right.
One thing that a lot of us do not give ourselves enough of is… breaks. When you notice that you becoming overstimulated or overwhelmed, take a short break. Take a small walk outside, drink a cool glass of water and rest for a bit. Give yourself time to calm down, recalibrate, and then rejoin your family and friends. Do not push or force yourself to stay in situations that cause your symptoms to get out of control. Take the break, your brain will thank you later(;
Have a Buddy
Oh, the buddy system, what a great system to have! For all of my mothers, this is especially for you. During the holidays, the work is oftentimes done by you! But with a brain injury this can be unbelievably hard, that is why having a buddy who you can call on to assist in collecting errands is so important. Not only is this buddy important for helping you run holiday tasks, but this is someone that you can reach out to and be honest about what you are going through
This person can also be helpful when your symptoms become exacerbated. Your buddy can be the person that you take a walk with or go to a quiet room when you are overwhelmed. You do not have to go through it alone.
Guard Your Heart
Sometimes people will have opinions on topics of discussion that they simply do not understand. This is especially true when it comes to brain injuries. I can remember the countless times in which my friends and some family member would ask, “why I wasn’t better” or “when I would be better” or even worse, “why I looked fine but didn’t act like it”. These comments can be very painful to hear, so I encourage you to guard your heart and mind. People do not know, what they do not understand and unfortunately, brain injuries are one of those things. Be prepared to get those questions and comments, but do not let them get the best of you. You are a fighter, you are a warrior, and no one can come close to understand just how strong you are.
Have a Happy Holiday
Most of all, have a happy holiday, enjoy yourself, eat your favorite foods, smile, laugh, play games, enjoy this moment in time. Brain injuries can really put the damper on life, but do not let it steal these precious moments.
Happy holidays everyone, this is ConcussionBeGone’s guide to having an enjoyable and happy holiday(: