How to Enjoy the Holidays Following a Traumatic Brain Injury

Categories: Brain Injury


Daily life can be a challenge for those who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It takes time to adjust to the changes brought about in your life due to your injury. Things that were once automatic may now take longer to process, and the amount of stimulus you can comfortably handle may also have lessened.

But when the holidays arrive, the stimulus is everywhere. Flashing lights, noises, crowds, and even smells and tastes are among many things that you may now find stressful. Overstimulation that leads to fatigue is quite common in those who are trying to enjoy the holidays following a traumatic brain injury. You may find yourself wanting to avoid the holiday altogether and just wait it out alone without all the activity. And while hiding out can seem tempting at times, it may not be necessary. Here are some ideas that can help you get through the holidays – and actually enjoy them.

Things That Will Help You Enjoy the Holidays

With a little care and some planning ahead, you can make the holidays go more smoothly, and cause you less overstimulation or anxiety.

Take even better care of yourself

Undoubtedly, your doctor has given you ample instructions and therapies to assist you in living life after your TBI. But here are some additional ideas that may help.

  1. Be sure to stay hydrated. Your brain functions better when it is kept hydrated. This is especially true if you are shopping or in situations where there is a lot of stimulation, so always take a water bottle with you. In addition, even though it may be tempting to indulge, avoid alcohol and caffeine in social or stressful situations. Substances like this will dehydrate you and make the overstimulation worse.
  2. Get lots of rest. You always need a good night’s sleep to help your brain heal. However, be sure to also help it prepare for stressful situations by taking a nap before an event. Then, after an event, take another nap to help your brain recover.

Shop wisely

Shopping can be a daunting task under normal circumstances – but the holiday hustle and bustle can make it even more challenging for those who’ve had traumatic brain injuries. Here are some ideas that may make your shopping a more enjoyable task.

  1. Make a list. Making a list beforehand will help alleviate a lot of stress while shopping. To the extent possible, plan which stores you want to visit and exactly what you are going to purchase from each store.
  2. Don’t do long trips. If you have a lot of presents to buy, instead of going on one or two marathon trips, do yourself a favor and break your shopping up into shorter spurts. Sure, it may take longer overall, but each experience will likely be much less stressful, and maybe even enjoyable if you keep each one short and sweet.
  3. Get someone to help. Reach out to friends and family to help you shop. You may need them to drive you, to help carry packages, or to simply keep an eye on you and let you know when it might be time to call it quits for the day. Let your friend know your budget so that they can help you stay within your budget.
  4. Avoid crowds. If you can shop online to avoid going out to stores, do it. However, if you need to go out shopping, avoid large crowds by going out on weekdays and shopping either early in the morning or later at night.

Be Prepared for Parties

Parties can be extremely stressful for those with a traumatic brain injury, but with a little preparation and determination, you might be able to enjoy yourself.

  1. Prepare with the host. Talk to the host ahead of time and make sure there is a quiet room at the event that you can retreat to should you start to become overwhelmed. It is also important to make yourself use that room if you need to lie down instead of just trying to “suck it up.” Also, find out what the agenda is for the party so that there are no surprises like fireworks or a flashing light display.
  2. Bring what you need. Bring things to the party like headphones or sunglasses and anything else that will help you to be more comfortable in a noisier, brighter situation. A hat with a brim is also a good idea if you are going to be someplace with glaring overhead lights.
  3. Have an exit strategy. Work it out with a friend or family member to be a designated driver should you have to make an exit because you are overwhelmed. Also, let the host know ahead of time that you may need to leave the party early.

If Your Loved One Has a TBI

If a loved one that you are planning on spending the holidays with has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, you can do your part to help make their holiday experience less stressful.

  1. Take them shopping. Encourage them to make a list, and concentrate on helping them knock out their list instead of yours. Absolutely avoid wandering around stores aimlessly trying to find the perfect gift.
  2. Encourage inexpensive gifts and activities. Many TBI patients cannot work and, therefore, have limited financial resources. Plan inexpensive activities with your loved one and encourage spending limits on gifts.
  3. Plan quieter events. Look for activities that are less stressful for your loved one. Quiet events like candlelight services can be enjoyable and calming.
  4. Watch for warning signs. When you are with your loved one who has suffered a TBI, always look for signs that may indicate to you that they are under duress. If you detect they are becoming overwhelmed, look for ways to help like finding them a dark quiet room or offering to drive them home if they need to retreat.

Count On Us When You Have a Traumatic Brain Injury

We understand how difficult it can be for those with a traumatic brain injury because the attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Connor, PLLC, have spent years working with our TBI clients to get them the compensation they deserve in order to put their life back together. If you’ve suffered a TBI, feel free to give us a call for a free consultation or contact us online today.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.