(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 email@example.com. 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.
Dedicated. Loyal. Supportive. Caring.
These are just a few of the many adjectives that describe our dynamic duo named as the BEST Superheroes of the Month for November 2019.
BEST offers our warm appreciation and congratulations to Kyle Wylie and Darice Konkler. This pair of real-life superheroes took support to a superhero level and helped other support group members soar to new heights.
Here’s what their nominator had to say about them:
I would like to nominate Kyle Wylie and Darice Konkler. Kyle is a caregiver and Darice is a survivor. They were members of the Edmonds Head Injury Group and are true superheroes. Kyle led the group on two occasions when I could not attend. They always contributed to the group, were very supportive, contributed food for meetings, and supported me as a facilitator. Kyle was the first to show up at picnics, ran the barbecue, and always made sure everything was packed and cleaned up. Kyle and Darice traveled three hours each way to attend our last picnic and visit with the group!
Thank you, Kyle and Darice for all that you do to support others!
So, who will the next superhero of the month be?
Do you know a survivor, caregiver or community supporter who is putting the power in personal empowerment? Soaring to new heights? Doing cool things? Bringing superhero-size support to the brain injury community?
Nominate your superhero for the BEST Superhero of the Month for some superhero team recognition.
Click here to learn more.
The Brain Injury Community Support Group in Spokane, Washington, created a memorable evening of celebration and giving thanks.
Utilizing the culinary talents of Holly Blomquist-Worley and Marysa Rogozynski, these two women prepared a Thanksgiving feast for support group members to savor and enjoy.
Held at the Multicare Valley Hospital on the evening of November 25th, BESTies enjoyed each other’s company, some delicious food, and had the opportunity to give thanks.
Judging by the smiles and this delightful meal in the pictures, a good time (and full bellies!) were had by all.
The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) has just witnessed the most beautiful art of sharing and caring.
Thank you for helping to support the empowerment artists of the brain injury community and their families.
With your generous help, you are providing the support for more learning materials and educational opportunities to tap into creative tools, resources and strategies for brain injury survivors to live the BEST lives possible after brain injury.
You put the “giving” in Giving Tuesday yesterday, the international day of giving back to causes that make a difference in the lives of others.
Click here to contribute on our fast and secure donation page.
Donations of any amount are welcomed and greatly appreciated.
As we reflect on 2019, the art of living our BEST lives possible in beautiful color and texture was evident.
Through our large support group network in Washington State; Our BEST Space activities, educational opportunities and events; widely attended educational symposiums; the Washington State TBI Conference; Brain Injury Awareness Month; camping; picnics; barbecues; the Tacoma Art Museum, TAM Local Community Art Installation: “Superhero” show featuring BEST artists; Second Life online support and activities; and BEST community outreach, the art of sharing our care and supporting each other was nothing short of magical.
Looking forward to the new brushstrokes of 2020. Thanks for making 2019 so special.