While the March 2019 Brain Injury Awareness Month has come to a close, our theme for the month, Super Self-Care has not. Self-care is an important part of our recoveries, journey forward and day-to-day lives.
Let’s keep it up, shall we?
Here’s to your health, self-care process, and empowerment!
(Editor’s note: Is cleaning a chore or is it a practice of self-care? BEST gives a warm welcome to BEST guest blogger Marysa Rogozynski, who has some important and compelling points on cleaning and will make you see cleaning in a brand new way! Thanks, Marysa! KT).
If someone would have told me that cleaning is therapeutic, I would have thought they were crazy.
Why on earth would someone want to clean for fun, or willingly for that matter?
Cleaning is called a chore for a reason, right?
Well, that’s what I thought….
If cleaning was a chore, it would be a project.
If cleaning was a choice, it would be a practice.
If we practice, then it can become a habit. If it becomes a habit, then hopefully it is helping benefit our life.
BOOM! Mind is blown!
Okay… so maybe it is not that extreme or simple, but I did a little investigating and cleaning can actually become a healthy habit; it just takes a little practice.
Don’t believe me? Well, here is some interesting information on the benefits of cleaning.
1. You begin to feel healthier.
2. With a clean space, you may feel more comfortable inviting friends over.
3. Quick burst of energy, and a little bit of physical exercise.
4. Increased productivity and be a distraction for the thoughts and emotions inside your head.
5. It can give you a sense of accomplishment.
6. Increase in a positive mood. It can also help calm anxiety and decrease feelings of depression.
7. A feeling of having more control in your life. Hey, this one can help with anxiety and depression, too!
See, it’s not so bad, right? Well, if you are like me and lack the motivation to do things, or doing too much work at once is very strenuous, I have a few tips for you!
1. Don’t tackle everything at once.
When we trying to clean everything at once it can take its toll on us. We start losing some energy, our brains might feel tired, and it can feel boring and tedious.
2. Pick one room or task to start with.
You know what is most important to you. If when you first walk into your house or apartment and there is a mess everywhere, which gives you anxiety or you lose things, start there.
If you have mail laying around and you need to file it, start there. Whatever the task may be, you decide what is most important in this current moment and time.
3. Once you have picked a task or room to clean, write it down.
By writing down the task at hand it can serve two purposes. The first is to help with memory.This allows you to keep track of what you are doing, in case you get distracted or forget what you are doing.
The second is it gives us something to check off later! It is a nice way to show that you have accomplished something that you set out to do.
4. Set a time limit. Take a break, and then continue again.
It is okay if you do not complete everything in one sitting. Cognitive psychology shows that the average attention span is 20 minutes, but keep in mind that can vary per person.
Pick a time limit to start off with. If you realize you can go longer or need a shorter time period, make an adjustment.
Don’t forget to set a timer! Once the timer goes off, take a break and then start the timer again.
5. Check it off.
After you have finished that task, go back to where you wrote it down and check it off! This allows for an increased sense of accomplishment, and it is a reward for completing your goal.
This can also help encourage you to do it again, creating habits over time.
6. Pick an Option A or B.
At this point, you have two choices.
Option A: Repeat these steps with a new task!
Option B: Stop with the task you completed, and work on forming a habit of the one task.
Then when you are ready, choose Option B!
7. If these steps don’t work quite right for you, that’s okay make some adjustments.
This process doesn’t seem right to me! I have tried it a few times and it isn’t working. That is okay! Figure out what works for you and make adjustments.
What works for one person may not work for another, but it can help give us an idea of where to start. You know your body and brain better than anyone else, listen to what it has to say.
These are some of the ways that I tackling cleaning. It helps me to feel less overwhelmed, and have a sense of accomplishment. I haven’t reached the point of a habit, but it is beginning to feel less like a chore.
So, I am curious. What tips do you have for cleaning? What works? What doesn’t? How does cleaning make you feel? What are you going to clean first?
Information and Resources:
Marysa Rogozynski grew up in Ontario, Canada until her family moved to the United States. After the move, she completed high school in Montana, going on to earn her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology at the University of Jamestown, where she also sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury playing collegiate sports. Currently, she is finishing her Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology at Eastern Washington University. She enjoys traveling, going to the movies, baking, and playing with her cats.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month.
March is an important month for sharing, caring, and having important conversations about brain injury and brain injury awareness.
The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) is excited to announce our theme for 2019’s awareness month: Super Self-Care.
BEST will be exploring different ways that we can practice self-care, such as:
- Tips and strategies on nutrition and food.
- Information on brain health.
- Important discussions on mental health.
- Tools and motivation to find your empowered self.
- Encouragement, inspiration and support for self-care.
You are also welcome to share your self-care tips and strategies. We’d love to hear from you!
Here’s to self-care and living our BEST lives possible, today and every day!
(Editor’s note: BEST welcomes back writer, blogger and BEST guest blogger, Kirsten Short, who shares a terrific and informative article on some helpful tools and strategies to engage your goals and journey forward in 2019. Thank you Kirsten for your important words and support! KT)
Yup, you heard me correctly; Happy New Year! I have had a very slow start to 2019 and it is about time that I send my best to the BEST community. I haven’t forgotten about you; I’m just running a little — okay, a lot — behind.
How behind? Well, it’s February 18th.
I’m sitting at my computer staring at a blank Word document. That tiny vertical line has been blinking at me for about ten minutes. I feel like with each pulse, it is taunting me to write something. Write something. Write something.
Why does everything feel so difficult these days?
Is it called a cursor because if you stare at it long enough, it will certainly make you curse?
January felt like the longest month in the history of months. In addition to feeling terrible physically, I was so unmotivated. My body, mainly my gut, has been taking it the hardest as I haven’t been sleeping very well and my eating habits have been terrible. And don’t even get me started on February. I feel like I blinked and bam, we are already half-way through, and I have no idea where the time has gone.
I am certain that I have used the word “ughhhhh” like 1,000,000 times over the last six weeks.
Does anyone else feel this way?
Raise your hand if you have already failed at your New Year’s resolution, haven’t even gotten around to making 2019 goals (and you usually do), or if you just feel a bit lost this year and need some direction.
Is your hand in the air? Okay. Now, raise your other hand. Do you feel ridiculous yet? Good. Now, wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze.
I am currently imagining hundreds and thousands of people hugging themselves and it’s very empowering (don’t worry – I am not delusional. I am aware that I am typing this to myself, so no one is really hugging themselves. This is just a minor irrelevant detail that I will sort out later). My point? We are going to get through this together and with a little bit of self-love and self-compassion, and lots of self-hugs.
…Google. (Don’t look surprised — Where else would we start?)
It took some time, but I finally stumbled upon a blogpost by Elizabeth Rider, a Certified Health Coach, titled, Word of the Year. In her article, Rider explains that a Word of the Year is “an intention, a theme per se, for how you want your year to flow.” Just like how a theme in literature is woven into all aspects of a story, our Word of the Year should influence all our actions, interactions, and motivations for the year.
After reading Rider’s blog, I was left with two thoughts:
- I love this! Instead of setting goals or resolutions (because let’s face it, when you have a brain injury, it can be difficult and overwhelming to meet rigid milestones or targets), we can create a theme to guide and motivate us throughout the year.
- How do I decide what theme or word(s) to use?
Apparently, making a yearly theme is not a new concept. I am just late to the party or I never showed up to the party (give me a break here, social gatherings are hard on my brain).
In any case, I was able to find some good resources on the topic, such as a podcast by Lisa Martin, a best-selling author and leadership coach. In her January 1, 2019 episode, Martin breaks down the process and pieces involved in creating a theme. I have summarized the steps below.
Step 1: Answer the following reflection questions:
- What worked and didn’t work last year?
- What do I desire for my life in the upcoming year?
- What do I need to let go of in the upcoming year?
- How will I foster my well-being in the upcoming year?
- Which strengths will I tap into to achieve what I desire?
- How will I make everyday count?
Step 2: Summarize your answers by finishing these three sentences:
I want more…
I want less…
I will continue to…
Step 3: Based on the three sentences from Step 2, create a one to two-word theme.
Following Martin’s steps, I realized that my decrease in motivation over the last six weeks has been a direct result of my declining health. It has become increasingly difficult for me to stay hopeful that I will get better and regain my independence one day. And just like the old cliché, I didn’t realize how important it is to have hope until I started to lose it. Since my concussion two years ago, hope has been keeping me afloat and consequently, without it, I know now that I would certainly sink.
Sounds like a good plan, right? No more ughhhs for this girl.
Now it’s your turn,
Kirsten Short was born and raised in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from British Columbia Institute of Technology and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia. From 2010 to early 2017, Kirsten worked in accounting firms where her client base consisted of small and medium-sized owner operated businesses, private companies, co-operatives, not-for-profit organizations and large public entities. Accordingly, she has a wide breadth of tax, advisory and assurance experience.
Unfortunately, Kirsten has been on medical leave since she suffered a concussion in February of 2017. However, she manages to stay positive despite her post-concussion symptoms, chronic migraines and visual snow. When not working on her rehabilitation, Kirsten takes full advantage of her ‘good’ hours by advocating for brain injury survivors and their families; this is a new passion of hers. She also enjoys yoga, reading, writing and taking her Boston Terrier, Charli, on walks. You can read more about her story on her blog: Concussions and Lawn Chairs.
So, we can finally put 2018 is behind us, and we can now only view it in the rear view mirror. I say finally not because it was a bad year, but because it just seemed like it would never end.
How’s everybody doing with their New Year’s resolutions? I’m doing great on that score since I don’t really make resolutions. But there is one deal I made with myself: to be excellent; not a resolution, but a promise and a commitment.
I use excellent instead of perfect for one reason: perfection is a place that is pretty much impossible to reach. I’ve been called both a perfect gentleman and a perfect idiot, but those are just figures of speech. I do try to be an excellent gentleman when I can, though, an idiot, not so much.
Excellence is attainable; one of the ways to get there, in my mind, is to always try my best–that way I can’t help but get better all the time. If something is worth doing, why not be excellent at it?
I don’t usually start out being excellent, but I do try hard to get there.
There is no shame in not being perfect, but being excellent is something to definitely be proud of. If you don’t achieve a goal you’ve set, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you need to keep working on it or that you need to set a more realistic, attainable goal. I know traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors have plenty of goals–chief among them is to get past having a TBI. That may or may not be realistic since lots of brain injury survivors have the injury for years or decades, and there’s not much that can be done about that.
However dealing with life with a determination to make the best of it, is indeed possible.
If you can do that, it will set you apart from a lot of survivors who choose to wallow in self pity and stay stuck. But if you decide to constantly identify areas where you can improve, it won’t make you perfect, but it will make you an excellent role model for others and your quality of life can improve incrementally.
That would be most excellent, wouldn’t it? Just not giving up and giving in will make you an excellent role model.
Learn from your setbacks and use what you learned from it. Keep doing that and you will be excellent by just making the conscious effort and not giving up.
So what does excellence mean? The team that loses the Superbowl aren’t losers. I mean, there are 32 teams and they came in number two out of 32 teams for the season. They weren’t perfect: they didn’t win, but they are excellent. If you look at it that way, you can be excellent at things you do too: you don’t have to be the best but you can be excellent.
There is no shame in losing the 100 meter dash in the Olympics; it doesn’t mean someone is a loser. If they weren’t excellent they wouldn’t have made it onto the Olympic team.
On a personal level, when I was in junior high school I came in second in a regional spelling contest. I misspelled a word or two, but I was still an excellent speller. Other people thought so and still think so–I still get asked how to spell words by other people.
Myself, I always try to be as excellent at writing as I can. Unfortunately that’s an area that I’m not able to judge. We can be our own harshest critic; it’s difficult to see ourselves as we are or the way the world sees us. When we get feedback we don’t want to hear, though, we have a perfect opportunity to be excellent. Someone just gave us an area where maybe we could work on to get better.
One way to know when you reach excellence is when others notice, and when they notice, they will tell you. What you need to do then is work on staying excellent, and not beat yourself up for not being perfect. Why waste your time and energy on something you likely not ever be able to, no matter how hard you try?
I hope you will try to be excellent at life. If you have a TBI, the deficiencies you suddenly have shouldn’t keep you from excellence in anything you choose to do. You’ve already come a long way; there are people who don’t survive the experience, but you did. In that way, you are already excellent.
Now just live your life the best way you are able, and you will be excellent at life.
One more thing: you are already excellent at something else–since everyone is a unique individual that means you can already do something no one else can, and that’s being yourself. You already excel at that. If you’re like me, you can always be better at something, always find areas you need to work on, but still be an excellent you.
Let’s all go out there and be excellent. What do you say?
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.