Life after brain injury will be full of challenges. But you don’t have to let these challenges overcome you.
In today’s article, we’ll show you what you can expect life after brain injury to look like, and what you can do to make life worth living again.
Let’s get started!
How to Live a Full Life After Brain Injury
Even though it might seem impossible, you can improve your life after brain injury.
Here are five of the best ways to do so.
1. Create a structured routine
In the early stages of your brain injury recovery, your days were well planned out by others and filled with appointments.
If you are like most brain injury patients though, this schedule didn’t last forever.
As you began to improve, you needed less and less oversight by doctors and therapists. Eventually, your days went from packed with doctor visits to practically emptied.
Many TBI survivors fall into an unhealthy routine when this happens. They might sleep in late, spend the afternoon surfing the internet or watching TV, take a nap, and start the routine all over again the next day.
This isn’t a judgment. Brain injury makes it harder to make decisions and initiate actions. It’s not that you are lazy; you just need help changing your habits.
That’s where a structured routine comes in. It helps you know “what’s next” without having to come up with something on your own. That way, you can stay active and prevent decline.
Ask a family member or friend to help you plan your day so that you do the same thing almost every day. Get up at 9 am, take a shower, eat breakfast, do your exercises, go to the park, etc.
This can give you something concrete to look forward to and will help reduce anxiety and stress.
You can also include recreational or volunteer activities in your schedule to change things up every once in a while.
2. Focus on small victories
Staying positive sounds easy in theory. But sometimes it can seem hard. Especially if your brain injury was a severe one.
That’s why it’s important to keep your focus on small victories in the early days of your recovery.
If you can’t walk because your balance and leg strength is weak, don’t think about the fact that you can’t run a marathon anymore. Instead, focus on what you have gained.
Maybe you couldn’t even stand up at all when you first started therapy, and now you can stand for ten seconds unsupported. That’s a big deal, be proud of yourself!
This fact is true for everyone, with or without a brain injury. If you only consider how far you still need to go to get where you want, you’ll soon get discouraged.
But if you break it down into smaller pieces, you’ll find it much easier to stay positive.
3. Write about three good things
One effective method to stay positive is to write about three good things that happened to you each day.
Brain injury, because it affects memory, can make it hard to remember the little, happy moments in life. Writing it down will help the memory stick.
Then at the end of the week, read how many times something positive happened to you that week. You’ll be surprised by how many good moments you had that you forgot about!
These moments don’t need to have huge significance; they could be as simple as eating a favorite dessert or watching the sunset. The idea is to emphasize the uplifting things in your life after brain injury.
4. Stay physically and socially active
As you gain more abilities back, it’s important to stay both physically and socially active.
The more active you are, the more your brain gets stimulated, which helps create new neural pathways and promotes better brain function!
Similarly, interacting with peers improves your cognitive function and helps fight off feelings of depression.
If possible, try taking part in some recreational therapy activities for traumatic brain injury patients.
These activities are fun ways to stay active and find a social group that understands and supports you.
You can also try volunteering at your local church or charity. Many people find that helping others makes their life after brain injury meaningful again.
The key is to have something that keeps you engaged and outside the house at least once a week. This helps improve both your TBI symptoms and your quality of life.
5. Be positive
The first step to getting your life back after brain injury is to believe you can.
We know, that sounds like sappy, wishful thinking. But it’s actually backed by science.
Studies have shown that people who maintain a positive outlook during their brain injury recovery achieve better results and report a better quality of life than those who dwell on the negative.
They also have less depression and more positive relationships with others.
We’re not saying you should never be sad about what you’ve lost. You need to let yourself feel these emotions if you want to fully heal.
But you shouldn’t let those emotions consume you.
The reason people with brain injuries who stay positive make more progress is because they don’t let those feelings change their beliefs.
Our beliefs affect our actions and vice versa. If you expect to never recover or find happiness again after your injury, you’re less likely to take the actions needed to keep your brain injury from getting worse.
But if you decide to improve, that will inspire you to work for it. And the more you work for it, the more results you’ll see.
Living Your Life After Brain Injury
As you can see, brain injury doesn’t have to be the end of your story. There are many ways to make your life after brain injury a rewarding experience.
It all depends on how you choose to see your new life. As corny as it sounds, your attitude really does make all the difference.
If you choose to stay positive and keep yourself active, you’ll have an easier, more fulfilling life than you will if you only see the negative side of things.
Yes, life will never look like it did before your injury. Some activities will always be more difficult than they are for others.
But this doesn’t mean your life will be empty. You can still find joy and happiness after your brain injury. You just have to know where to look.