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Boredom after a brain injury

It is often the case that a person finishes rehabilitation and is not yet ready to return to work or study. If this period of time is unstructured, people can easily become bored or depressed.  Structure and social contact are very important after a brain injury, but are often missing during the recovery process.

The following tips show what can be done to create meaningful routines to make life easier and avoid boredom.

Make a weekly timetable

Brain injury can affect a person’s ability to plan their day, prioritise activities, make decisions, get started on tasks or know when to stop. Having a regular routine saves you from having to do this every day because it is thought out beforehand.

A weekly plan can be drawn up with activities marked against daily time slots.

Examples of activities might include:

  • meals
  • housework
  • exercise – both general and for rehabilitation
  • rest breaks and short naps
  • social activities
  • hobbies
  • reading

Pace yourself

It is important not to overdo things as fatigue can set in and take a few days to recover from. Work out how long you can do physical, mental and social activities for and stick to time limits. Also, plan these for when you feel most energetic, and if necessary take a short nap or rest in the early afternoon.

Rehabilitation never finishes

Unless a brain injury has been very mild, it is likely that you will have some ongoing effects for the rest of your life. Don’t assume the hard work finished when you stopped seeing the rehabilitation team. People who are very motivated to continue their own personal rehabilitation often find they are still making progress years later after their brain has healed itself. Work out what issues you still face, and possible strategies to compensate for them. Work these into your timetable.

Break big things into small steps

Having a project to work on can be very motivating, but a common problem after a brain injury is feeling overwhelmed by the details, or not knowing where to start. Break it down into small manageable steps that you can work into your timetable.

Develop your social skills

This area can be neglected in rehabilitation. A brain injury can cause the following issues:

  • talking constantly and not listening to others
  • asking intrusive questions
  • self-centred behaviour
  • inappropriate comments and behaviour
  • standing or sitting too close to others.

Regaining lost social skills is critical to retaining friendships, making new ones, keeping healthy family relationships, and any eventual return to work, study or community involvement. If you have any of these issues, talk with close friends or family members about ways to relearn social skills and work these into your weekly plan.

Celebrate the small things

A brain injury can be very humbling, e.g. the former CEO of a multinational company who cries with joy the first time he manages to dress himself without help. Celebrate the small things, because in reality they aren’t small things at all. Usually only another person who has a brain injury can understand the incredible effort and willpower it has taken to accomplish those ‘small’ steps.