This is so true! Whether it’s around the support group table, at the creativity table at Our BEST Space, at the table in the BEST PEER Center on our Second Life platform, or an informative chat on Twitter with BEST friends, it’s our folks in the chairs that matter most. We (heart ❤) you!
(Editor’s note: BEST’s own Gloria Kraegel penned an article on different ways to navigate the holiday season while taking care of our ourselves. We’d love to hear the creative ways that you manage this time of year. Send your thoughts to me, Kim Thompson, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you! KT).
Navigating the Holidays
By Gloria Kraegel, BEST Executive Director
It’s that time of year when those of us with a brain injury are challenged, more than any other time of year, to figure out gift giving, deal with increased lights and sound, navigate social events, work on our social skills, and so much more.
It’s exhausting, and yet we want to enjoy the spirit of the season with friends and family.
How do we balance all of this with our own needs?
The first thing I would recommend is to find a way to advocate for ourselves by asking for help, saying no to some things so we can enjoy other things, and to keep things simple.
Ask for help: Everyone needs help no matter what time of year it is. We might need help with shopping, even on the internet. Perhaps we want to bring a simple dish to a family holiday dinner and can ask someone to help us prepare it. Whatever it is, identify who in our circle of support would be the best person to ask for help. Not only that, if someone offers to help, let them.
Saying no: Saying no is a healthy way to save energy this time of year. Actually, learning to politely say no is a good practice any time of year. We don’t have to accept every invitation, allow every visitor, engage with everyone at an event. If the lights are too bright, ask to turn them down. If the music is too loud, ask to turn it down. Remember that we engage with others best when the stimulus is low.
Keep things simple: All the decorations, rearranging furniture for that large tree, and everything else a lot of us think are necessary for the holidays really isn’t. A smaller tree, simple decorations, and less lights all help to reduce stimulus, thereby reducing overload and creating a quieter holiday we can fully enjoy.
Eat well: That doesn’t mean eat a lot, or to eat everything offered to us. Eat smaller portions of healthy food. We know that our food choices affect our brains and cognitive abilities. Too much caffeine and sugar are unhealthy. Nuts, fruits, and vegetables provide the nutrients our brains need to function at its best.
Sleep well: Often after a brain injury we find it hard to sleep regular hours. This can be especially true during the holidays when we may have more to do or be a part of. It’s important to keep a regular sleep schedule (and personal quiet time) to help us get the most out of our holiday activities.
Plan: Finally, and this always helps me get through the holidays; have an idea of the things you want to do in advance of doing anything. Plan which events are most important to you and that you would enjoy the most. Attend those and say no to the rest of the invitations. Have what you want to wear to these events already picked out and put together in the closet. This way you don’t have to worry about what’s clean or ironed, or which sweater goes with what pants.
These aren’t the only ways to reduce stress and navigate the holidays. If you have tips that work for you, please share them with us and have a safe, peaceful, enjoyable holiday season.
(Editor’s note: If you could create a movie about your life, what would that look like? Writer, guest blog contributor and stroke survivor, Isaac Peterson, explores that very question. Enjoy! KT)
My mind was just wandering again, and for some reason I wondered; when they make the movie about my life, how will it turn out?
Well, I can’t say whether someone would want to put my life up on the silver screen, but I know that if/when they do, I’d want Denzel Washington to play me, and be the star of the movie.
That’s not going to happen, so I guess I should just make my own movie about me, starring me.
Looking at my life as a movie, it’s being filmed and the script is being written every day. The cast is constantly changing but there are some major co-stars and a cast of thousands in the background. Those thousands will include all of you reading, since you’re all such an important part of my life.
I’m just sorry I can’t give you all some screen time.
In my movie, I’m not just the star–I’m the writer, director, producer, and casting director. I’m in charge of developing the plot and the general direction my movie takes.
The hard part is deciding what scenes will make it into my movie. What are the major highlights to include? What low-lights? The times I won, the times I lost, the choices I made and the opportunities I missed.
I think the first part of my movie would feature a perpetually wisecracking me when I was younger, a guitarist, journalist, a leader of men and a follower of women, all sorts of roles I’ve played through my life.
But the main focus of my movie would be surviving a major stroke, and how I used my second chance at life. I wrote once that the rest of my story will not be written for me, it will be written by me, so I’m going to make sure to write a blockbuster ending.
Maybe my movie will get reviews like the feel good movie of the year. It will if I have anything to say about it; and I have lots of say about how interesting my movie turns out.
I’m not sure though whether it would be a drama, a comedy, adventure or something else. Who knows? All I know for sure is I want to live a life interesting enough to make a great movie. I know my mom would surely go see it.
There are billions of movies being made every day, one for every single one of us, whether we realize it or not.
So, what would your movie look like?
Remember, it’s all up to you and you are the director every day. And you get to write your own script.
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 email@example.com.