10 Tips for Healing and Self-Care After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain injuries happen to people all the time. Sometimes they only need a quick recovery, but other cases need weeks, months, or even years to heal completely. These are a few tips for healing and self-care after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that you can use alongside advice from your doctor to make your recovery more manageable.
1. Rely on Your Support System
Even if your doctor says you can resume your normal activities in a few weeks, it’s best to go home to a support system. Someone should be there to help you adjust your routine and take care of things when you need to rest.
It’s also wise to get more comfortable asking for help and accepting it. Many people prefer to do things independently, but that puts more stress on injured brains. Try viewing someone’s help as an act of love to accept it without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
2. Record Your Doctor’s Advice
Your doctor or recovery team will provide extensive advice to ensure a complete recovery. It’s crucial to follow every step, but you may forget some of what they say after each appointment. Ask your doctor if it’s okay to record their advice with your phone or ask someone to attend the appointment with you and take notes.
When you have a detailed record of your doctor’s recovery plan, it’s much easier to stick with it. You can always call their office for clarification if you can’t understand your notes.
3. Read Insightful Books
Many helpful books are available for people who want to know more about healing and self-care after a traumatic brain injury. Consider your specific diagnosis and recovery recommendations to find the best book for your healing journey.
Some books are memoirs that demonstrate how to think positively when you’re unable to do what you’re used to doing. Others are advice books for family members supporting someone with a TBI or self-help books for patients written by therapists.
If your doctor says reading is safe, you and your support system can learn a lot from reading stories by people who have been in your position and overcome the challenges associated with TBI healing.
4. Eat Healthy Foods
Revamping your diet with healthy foods can make your recovery much more manageable. Adding nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids will reduce symptoms of depression while providing your brain with what it needs to thrive on a cellular level. Your doctor can recommend specific foods or supplements to boost your health depending on your health needs and recovery plan.
5. Keep Your Eyes Closed
People rarely realize how much sensory information their brains process just by keeping their eyes open. Your mind has to process light, what you see, and visual depth all at once. That’s why your doctor will likely recommend that you avoid too much visual stimulation or avoid bright lights.
Take frequent brain breaks by closing your eyes for prolonged periods throughout your healing process. That might mean taking naps or avoiding screen time by listening to podcasts or music when you’d typically watch TV.
6. Consider Light Aerobic Activities
Talk with your doctor about adding light aerobic activities to your routine after your initial TBI recovery phase passes. Research shows that it can help people recover from TBIs when introduced gradually into their routine. Think about taking short, slow walks or gently swimming a few times a week to add more activity to your brain’s daily processing.
7. Change Your Sleep Routine
A recent study found that 30-84% of TBI patients have insomnia as an ongoing symptom after their injuries. It’s an incredibly prevalent symptom, so embrace the idea of experimenting with your sleep routine to find the best way to combat sleepless nights.
You could try drinking caffeine earlier in the day, avoiding blue light before bed, or limiting your naps during the afternoon. Your doctor may recommend sleep aids in the form of medication or environmental adjustments. Fearlessly trying new things will ensure you find the best solution quickly.
8. Talk With a Therapist
Counseling gives TBI patients additional support from someone trained to guide people through their experiences. Your caregivers will also experience some stress relief because they don’t have to provide emotional support in ways they’ve never been trained to do.
Seek a therapist or counselor who has experience with TBI patients to get proper treatment for your ongoing mental health needs.
9. Try Socializing Weekly
Healing from a TBI can feel isolating. You won’t be able to attend social events with your friends and may not leave your home for weeks or months at a time. Try socializing by having phone calls, video chatting, or inviting your loved ones to visit for short periods. The easy-going social settings will be gentler on your brain and provide the socialization everyone needs to avoid depression and isolation.
10. Give Yourself Grace
It takes time to heal, so give yourself grace. Your TBI won’t resolve itself overnight. Honor your emotions and release them with healthy outlets, like therapy or recommended resources from your doctor.
When you’re upset or angry with your current limits, try viewing them through a perspective of understanding your body instead of fighting it. All of these things are ways to give yourself grace and find more peace while your body heals – no matter how long it takes.
Support Your Healing and Self-Care
Anyone can chat with their doctor about using these tips for healing and self-care after a traumatic brain injury. Paying attention to your physical and mental needs will create a comprehensive recovery plan that gives you the best quality of life while your brain heals.
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