Christmas can be overwhelming at the best of times, but living with a brain injury can make the chaos of shopping, noise and lights unbearable.
If you or someone you care for has an ABI, there are a few ways you can help prevent Christmas cheer descending into seasonal struggle.
Christmas after brain injury:
- Get a lot of rest and stick to a designated bedtime. The change in routine with social events and obligations can cause additional stress and fatigue. Regular naps and an end time will assist in the recovery process.
- Communicate with your friends and family about the feeling of overstimulation before events. Conversations about why you may be absent, need to rest during events or leave early are important in maintaining relationships with loved ones.
- Plan for a quiet area on Christmas day or at social events and don’t be afraid to say when you need some time out.
- Look after your mental health. For many people, Christmas can actually be a really lonely, stressful and fatiguing time, but being prepared for these feelings and reaching out for support can make a big difference.
- Avoid alcohol or drugs – most rehabilitation specialists will advise against drinking for at least one to two years after brain injury. After that, it is only recommended in in moderation. It can be easy to turn to alcohol to ease your nerves around the holidays, but your tolerance can be altered post brain injury. Read about drinking while living with ABI here.
- For gifts, plan short trips to the shops. Try to go outside of busy times to limit overstimulation and the stress of shopping centres in December. If you can shop online, most online shopping sites will indicate if gifts can arrive in time for Christmas at this stage.
- If you have to hide gifts from curious family members, make sure you write down where you have hidden them. Memory loss affects us all in different ways, so avoid the potential stress of missing gifts.
- Take lots of photos! Dealing with memory loss can make brain storage space limited, but if you ensure your phone storage space is free enough, try to capture the day to help with short term memory loss. More on memory loss here.
- Stay hydrated – whether you‘re shopping, celebrating or eating yourself silly, the brain will always function at higher capacity when hydrated.
- Minimise travel where you can – ask your family to come to you, where possible, or try to just travel locally.
- Reach out to others in the same situation, because there’s a lot to be said for sharing experiences and tips with people who truly understand. Our Reconnections groups on Facebook are a great place to connect with others on the journey:
Synapse Reconnections – Carers
- Try these tips from Beyond Blue, specifically related to stress, anxiety and loneliness around Christmas.
- Read 6 tips for surviving the holidays from a TBI survivor here.
- Headway UK has more here on anger, and dysphasia.