Here’s what self-care means to BEST Executive Director, educator, advocate and caregiver, Gloria Kraegel.
(Editor’s note: Writer, investigative journalist and BEST guest blogger, Isaac Peterson, shares some brain injury awareness information in honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month. Thank you Isaac for the important facts about brain injury. KT)
A few times while contributing writing to this blog, I’ve mentioned undiagnosed traumatic brain injury (TBI) and never really thought about it.
Then, out of the blue, it occurred to me to wonder how it’s possible to have a traumatic brain injury and not be aware of it.
How could you not know you have a TBI?
I think I was making the mistake of thinking anyone with a traumatic brain injury was as bad off as I was, and continue to be, although I’m getting progressively better. After my stroke, I was a real mess mentally and physically. In fact, I felt as messed up as a soup sandwich.
How could someone make it through what I did and not know they have a brain injury?
After a while I remembered not all brain injuries are alike, and neither are the symptoms.
I finally looked into it out of my own curiosity. Here are some things I learned. (Keep in mind this is a broad topic and what I have here is only intended to be general information).
First, there are three levels of brain injury: mild, moderate and severe:
Mild TBI: A person may experience unconsciousness for a few seconds or a few minutes; Post-Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) lasting for a few minutes.
Moderate TBI: Loss of consciousness for several hours; PTA 1-24 hours after injury.
Severe TBI: Loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours, PTA for more than 24 hours. This is the kind of TBI I have.
Some major causes of TBI are external force to the head, oxygen deprivation (examples are near-drowning, near-suffocation, or breathing exhaust fumes), strokes or tumors (these are called acquired brain injury)–and it goes without saying—brain damage.
My severe TBI is a result of a stroke, which created pressure inside my skull on my brain. It put me in the acute care ward for an entire month and left me with ongoing physical, neurological and short-term memory problems.
Fortunately, not all brain injuries are a bad as mine.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern.
From what I can make out, people with mild TBI are the ones most likely to have an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury, so they are the least likely to be diagnosed and/or treated. Mild brain injuries can still have a negative effect on certain behaviors and quality of life.
People with milder TBI may experience any number of changes—depression or mood swings may be clues that point to a brain injury, especially if they’re not usual.
Some symptoms of brain injury may at first be diagnosed as something else entirely and distract from being aware that brain injury may be a possible cause.
Physical symptoms may include:
- Persistent headaches.
- Mental fatigue.
- Physical fatigue.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Sleep disorders.
One thing that may contribute to brain injuries going undiagnosed and untreated is feeling like the onset of symptoms is just one of those things that come and go, and that they will go away on their own.
Such attitudes may lead one to forego medical attention that could detect a brain injury.
It may be possible to have a brain injury and not have those symptoms, however.
Our skulls really aren’t as thick as people think they are; any jolt to the head that causes movement inside the skull can cause a brain injury. Or as I said before, it may be pressure inside the skull or oxygen deprivation.
If you take a blow to the head, think about getting checked out by a doctor; there are diagnostic procedures I won’t bore you with. You may not have a TBI, but if you do, why not make sure and have it treated if you do have one?
I advocate maintaining a relationship with your doctor and not hesitating to schedule a visit, whether you think anything is wrong or not.
I’ll end here with two cliches that I think apply: what you don’t know really can hurt you and better safe than sorry.
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.
(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.
🎨💚Celebrating art and friends: As we kick off our themed month of “Super Self Care” in March, Here’s a short video of this week’s “Creative Time” activity led by Diane Rasch at Our BEST Space in University Place, WA. Being creative and making art is a great form of self-care! Creative Time is held each Wednesday at Our BEST Space from 11 am to 3 pm. No experience necessary and all our welcome! Happy March and happy creating!