This time of year is filled with activities: parties, shopping, wrapping presents, for some- church happenings. Schedules change and chaos rolls in as the Big Day comes closer.
For someone with a TBI, the holidays are difficult. The changes in routine and commotion around the holiday challenges their coping skills. I find Christmas exhausting and stressful.
There are some things those with TBI can do to help themselves.
1. Take down time when you need it. Sometimes, getting away from the situation helps.
2. Monitor your alcohol intake. Alcohol often makes TBI symptoms more difficult to mange.
3. Keep your schedule. I fine having a routine helps me to remember things and provides a comfortable framework.
4. Be willing to excuse yourself from a party, meal, or gathering if it’s too much.
5. Try to complete tasks in smaller steps and early. Shop and wrap presents early. I take several days to complete the wrapping of presents.
6. Say “no” when necessary. On Thanksgiving this year, I made the mistake of not saying no to a task that was too much for me to handle. My parents came down to visit. They brought a side dish and a pre-cooked turkey. However, I still needed to prepare several aides myself. Everything went fine when I could do one task at a time. When I had to monitor everything in the oven and on the stove, I lost it. Fortunately, my Mom stepped in and took over. I still had a migraine that lasted two days. I needed to say no.
Caretakers and friends can help.
1. Understand TBI.
2. Be patient with us. We are trying.
3. Notice when we are getting overwhelmed. Ask if we need a break. Sometimes, we need prompted and encouraged to take the break we desperately need. Many of us are trying to be who we were before our injury.
4. Offer help in a respectful way. Mom asked what I needed and when I couldn’t answer her clearly, she gave me direct tasks while she took over monitoring the oven and stove.
5. Be flexible.
6. Help find alternative celebrations. After Thanksgiving, my parents suggested we eat out both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This took all pressure off me to try to figure out special meals.
TBI brings changes. However, the holidays don’t need to be stressful. They may be different. Some of the traditions may need adapted.
Happy Holidays! Be well!