Posts Tagged Holidays
By Bill Herrin
I once heard the radio legend Paul Harvey say that life is a “do-it-yourself project.” It always stuck with me, and I saw many folks through the years that didn’t seem to grasp this simple, yet truthful mantra. I’m certain that Mr. Harvey wasn’t referring to survivors of TBI, but even they have a stake in what ends up happening in their lives…even when so much of their lives may feel out of control. Since every brain injury is completely different, one survivor can be social and fully aware of how they interact with others – where another may be dealing with more severe issues, and would rather be left alone. That’s understood, and for that reason, this blog article is meant for folks to be able to “cherry pick” the things that suit their situation, their needs and their desires best. There is no “broad brush” approach implied or intended here! One size does not fit all.
Interaction Doesn’t Always Come Easy
I think the one thing that could be agreed upon is this: if you want interaction, conversation or inclusion – you need to be willing to make some effort. As if making a friend isn’t hard enough in this world, the complications of TBI make it more complex. Depending on your TBI, you will have different options, but here are some suggestions for starting to build a more rewarding life.
- Find a support group that includes people with similar lives – a TBI survivor group, brain injury group, etc. If there’s no such thing where you live, then guess what – support groups are also a “do-it-yourself project”! If you dare to start one, you’ll officiate the meetings (consider sharing the responsibility with others, too), and possibly get the group going. Not only is it an achievement for you, but it’s also a blessing to all involved. This can build a small (or growing) circle of friends that have something in common. You’re on your way to building a portion of your life that is
missing, and you will all have a sounding board, an outlet to discuss things in common, and just some fun time together. Be prepared in advance for any issues that may arise, as people are not perfect, and some may speak before they think…such is life.
- Use social media to interact with others, especially those who have TBI in common. The safest way would be through moderated forums that are based around life with a TBI, etc. This keeps conversations on track, eliminates any bullying or threatening behaviors, etc. The best rule of thumb for social media is that it’s social, and society brings a huge variety of people with it! LOL
- Find a church or synagogue that you like – maybe go to one you’re familiar with, or maybe you already attend one – either way, the other members can feel like
family! You just may find some ways to get involved, as well as ways to have fun together. Churches and synagogues often provide great social inclusion, and acceptance of others…find your place among some encouraging folks, and you’ll be able to encourage them as well. That’s a nice payoff.
- Find a coffee shop, library, bookstore, restaurant, etc. that you really like (or more than one!) and go there on a regular basis. If you go on a consistent basis (once or twice a week) you’ll start being recognized, and you’ll get to know others as well. If you’re shy, don’t rush things…sometimes it’s best to just show up, and the rest will take care of itself. If you’re not able to drive, see if someone you know can take you, and hang out with you for a bit. Two people together are safer and can start a conversation more readily. This is just for fun – so let things happen and enjoy the time away from home!!
- If you’re physically able to go walking, or if you need a wheelchair, etc. – either way, get outside! There’s nothing quite like being out and about. As mentioned above, find a friend or relative that can go with you. If not, maybe in due time you’ll be able to be involved with a group that has the same goals of rebuilding their lives…and you can make a day of it together. The main thing is to think about doing things and look for the best opportunities to make them happen. Life is a do-it-yourself-
- Find a job or volunteering position that suits you. These are great, and can benefit in more than one way. With a job, you’ll interact with people on a personal level, and you’ll also get paid! That’s a win-win! Volunteering for a cause that is near and dear to your heart is a good way to make a difference in your community too, and to make change in yourself. It may not pay, but the end results will be positive – social benefits, and sometimes volunteering can lead to part time work. As stated earlier, these may or may not be an option, as it will depend on your own situation. If it’s something you can do, it’s a great step to making friends that live in your home area. Work it!
Inclusion and Exclusion
The final part of this article (which actually was the intended goal) is that if you work at making your life well-rounded, work to meet people (and make a friend, or friends), strive to be more social (even if it’s scary), and find some places to find inclusion, inspiration, and socialization…you’ll have folks that you can call on via phone, texting, through social media, at your church or synagogue, at places you frequently visit, at work/volunteering, and also other friends & family members…all of these combine into making up your new normal. Your new Life 2.0!
The Holiday season is one of those times of year when people can feel down, forgotten, maybe they really aren’t included. When you work on being more social, encourage those who need it (and in turn, you’re encouraged too), and work to be more active in your community (church/synagogue, volunteering, etc.) …the Holidays will be much brighter, as well as your life throughout the year! Be encouraged. Be encouraging. It’s funny how those two go hand in hand. It’s my wish that you have fun this (and every) upcoming Holiday season. Make the best of it and work your plan year-round to build the life you deserve. It’s a do-it-yourself project, and with determination, you can make it better and better…and always remember, there’s always someone that needs love and encouragement more than you do. Be an encourager to others. You’ll find there’s nothing that feels better than being the light in someone’s life that truly needs it! Happy Holidays!
[VIDEO] 5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays with an mTBI — How to manage your TBI & still enjoy the holidays – YouTube
Kim & Brie are back! This time they’re here to give you some tips on how to comfortably celebrate the holidays after a TBI. Post Concussion Syndrome can make holidays even more overwhelming than usual, but some forethought and planning can help. The TBI Rockstars guide you through some of their own holiday experiences post brain injury.
Flashing lights. Crowded stores. Loud family gatherings. The holiday season should be joyful, but it can often be overwhelming to someone who is living with traumatic brain injury.
If you are living with TBI, share these tips with your friends and family. If someone you love is living with TBI, the tips below can help you plan in advance to make the holiday season happier and more relaxed for all of your friends and family.
These great ideas came from members of BrainLine’s wonderful online community.
- Identify — in advance, if possible — a quiet place to go at gatherings if you are feeling overwhelmed. This gives you a chance to take a break, and lets your loved ones stay involved in the festivities.
- Avoid crowded stores and order gifts online instead.
- If you are shopping in stores, remember to make a list in advance and plan your trips on week days — either early in the morning or late at night when there are fewer crowds.
- Wear a cap with a brim or lightly tinted sunglasses to minimize the glare of bright lights in stores or flashing lights on a tree.
- Wear noise-reducing headphones or ear buds. These are also great gift ideas for loved ones with TBI if they don’t already have them.
- Ask a friend to go with you to stores or holiday parties. They can help you navigate crowds and anxiety-producing situations.
- Plan in advance as much as possible. And ask your hosts what their plans are so you aren’t surprised by anything.
- Volunteer to help with the holiday activities that you enjoy the most and are least stressful for you.
- Remember to ask for help and accept help if it is offered to you.
- Ask someone you trust to help you with a budget to avoid overspending on gifts.
- Take a nap if you need a break.
- Remember that it’s okay to skip the big parties and plan to celebrate in a way that makes you comfortable and happy.
- Check in advance to see if fireworks are part of outdoor celebrations — and skip them if they make you uncomfortable.
- If flashing lights bother you, ask your friends and family to turn off the flashing feature on Christmas tree lights or other decorations when you visit their homes.
- You can let your host know in advance that you may need to leave early. It will help you feel comfortable if you need to get home or to a quiet place and it can also help avoid any hurt feelings.