Self-care and keeping it simple may be the two most important factors for surviving holiday stress after a traumatic brain injury.

The holiday season is a glorious time of year to celebrate, dressing in our seasons best to attend events, parties and visit with family and friends. It’s also a creator’s paradise for those who love to decorate with beautiful, glittering décor, sparkling lights, bright colors, and an array of busy displays highlighting the festivities. What often comes with holiday events, family gatherings, and celebrations are crowds, loud holiday music, lots of conversation, brilliant lights, and sugary treats for all. For someone living with a brain injury, the holidays can become a bit overwhelming.

Keeping it simple may mean limiting the number of activities you go to and managing the time during the ones you choose to attend. Resting before events and eating a nutrient-dense meal before arriving at any holiday gathering will enhance your energy. Avoid holiday food and beverage choices that are known triggers for poor brain functioning.

If you offered to bring a holiday treat to an event, you can be creative and still choose a recipe that is easy to make. By leaving out refined sugars and inflammatory ingredients found in most holiday recipes, your delicious dessert may surprise everyone and become the hit of the party! There are plenty of fabulous food bloggers online offering free AIP, Keto, and Paleo holiday recipes. You may want to bake a test run ahead of time!

For brain injury survivors living with seizures or sensitivity to lights, some holiday events may be tricky. Consider positioning yourself in an area where the lights are most dim and limiting the time at that event. Asking a loved one, or friend to help you by staying nearby while taking part in conversations or group gatherings will help relieve pressure to contribute at a faster pace. When we learn to recognize early signs of fatigue and overwhelm, we can take action, knowing we need to rest before we become too depleted.

Surviving holiday stress after a brain injury may be a challenging journey some have yet to experience. If you have lived with a brain injury for a while, you may already be aware of your time limits, food limitations, and self-care boundaries that work best for you. It is easy for any of us to get excited for what the season may bring, yet it can also be a bit stressful. We can all use a few self-care tips during the holidays, whether we are living with a brain injury or not. The goal is to enjoy our life moment by moment, take care of ourselves, and love one another as Christ loved us.

Holiday Blessings from Hope After Brain Injury