Daily Time To "Recharge Your Batteries"
Our Battery Life Isn't What It Used To Be
After TBI, our brain has to work harder to do everything. Things that our brain could do quickly and easily, is now harder. That being said we are using more energy than someone who does not have a TBI, just to do everyday tasks.
It is hard to explain to someone who has not been through it. I find the easiest way to get it to make sense to people is to say that our "batteries" just aren't what they used to be. Also, they take a lot longer than they used to recharge. Some days despite how much rest we get, we just can't recharge them.
Avoid Letting Your Batteries Run All The Way Out
I learned from my neuropsychologist the importance of taking breaks throughout the day. Even if at the time I don't feel like I need one. If we don't rest our brains, it will catch up with us and we will end up crashing for the day. Whereas if we take time every so often to just sit quietly for 5 or 10 minutes and rest, we can sometimes prevent those days where we are just done in.
It takes time to get into the habit of taking these breaks. On the days that we feel good, we want to keep pushing to get our tasks done. I totally understand that because I have those days, when I feel better, I think I don't need my breaks...but it always comes back to haunt me later.
Taking Breaks Looks Different After TBI
Another thing that I did not understand at first, was that taking breaks as a TBI patient is going to be different than someone who has not had a TBI.
Breaks for us means to stop everything. Sit or lay down, close our eyes, maybe meditate. Just literally doing nothing for 5 or 10 minutes. That probably sounds crazy, like what will 5 or 10 minutes of doing nothing do.
The thing is our brains are working harder to do everything that we do than it had to before. If you are watching T.V or reading a book. Your body may be physically still (which is also important) but you are not allowing your brain to rest.
You want to create a break space where you can be in the quiet and just close your eyes. A place that your brain will not have all kinds of external stimuli to sort through. All that overstimulation is what uses our batteries so quickly after TBI. Our brains aren't able to easily and automatically comprehend things after TBI, it is way harder than it used to be. So we need to give our brains a break.
Try To Take A Break Before You Start Feeling Bad
If you can be conscious of your need for breaks and take them before you start feeling bad that is ideal. Usually, if you do it that way, you should be able to easily get up and get back to your tasks after the break. Sometimes if you wait too long to take a break, your 5 or 10-minute break might turn into crashing for the rest of the day, instead of just rest and recharge.
Set A Timer To Go Off Once An Hour
My neuropsychologist suggested to me that I set a timer to go off once every hour. When it goes off, I stop what I'm doing, and take my break.
We All Overdo It Every Once In A While
We all overdo it every once in a while. Either we have a good day and do a lot. and don't realize it until we crash late in the day. Sometimes with me when I feel bad I just feel stubborn about wanting to push through and get my tasks done, which also leads to a crash. It just comes with the TBI territory.
Try Integrating The Breaks, I Think It Will Help
Try integrating these short breaks to recharge your batteries throughout the day. Set a timer if you need to. Plan ahead where you will take your break. Maybe a quiet spot in the house or a rocking chair on the front porch. When it's time for the break, do it! 5 or 10 minutes can help recharge you a lot, I think you would be surprised.
I also use the break timer as a reminder to drink water and stay hydrated.
There are so many things that I'm learning are different for me now since my accident. I'm slowly, with the help of my medical team, family and friends support, figuring out ways to help cope with my symptoms. I hope that by sharing my experiences I might help someone else who is going through the same thing.