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13 Ways to Keep Growing After a Traumatic Brain Injury

In 2013 I was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and everything I had once known was slowly transforming into something else I had never imagined. My confidence had turned into insecurities, my career turned into an old dream, and my experiences with people turned into faded memories. I was very focused on healing what I could and becoming the next best version of myself, whatever that may be. I wanted to share 13 tips I use to keep growing. I hope you enjoy!

1. Eat healthy.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you eat better, you’ll overall become healthier and may feel better. Everyone says “your body is a temple.” “You are what you eat.” Fuel your body with the stuff that comes from a farm, not a fryer.

2. Exercise.

Exercise is necessary for the body for so many reasons. (Consult a doctor first!) According to the Harvard Health Letter, “Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.”

3. Challenge yourself socially.

Find something you like about your “enemies” or people you don’t particularly like. I like to think the fine line between love and hate is misunderstanding. Now this doesn’t mean you have to necessarily hang out with them or become best friends. However, it will give you a chance to gain some perspective and gain more peace within yourself. If similar situations come up in the future, you have already done the personal growth needed to handle it better the next time around.

4. Don’t give others power over your choices.

I can’t tell you how often I hear people say out loud or post on social media “sorry I had to (insert excuse) because (insert name or event) made me do it.” Don’t give your own power away to others so easily. Don’t let other people’s actions or words “manipulate” you into doing anything. You are worth so much more than that. You have the power to decide who has power over you; remember that.

5. Set a daily intent.

This can be a tiny goal for the day, or you can keep using the same one for a while. Choose something to work on — happiness, peace, laughing more, better financial decisions, health etc. Whatever you pick, keep checking in with yourself and ask “Am I making decisions that are working toward my intent or against it?” It is a good baseline to see how much you are improving and working towards your goals.

6. Forgive yourself.

Let’s face it, we are all human and we are going to make mistakes. That is part of growth, and that is how we get better. But holding onto the guilt and burdening yourself doesn’t help at all. Make the changes you need and then let it all go. Love yourself and be open to trying again.

7. Pamper yourself.

Self-care is so important and so easy to push to the side. Get a massage, give yourself a facial, go to a sauna, diffuse essential oils or take a bath. There are a lot of businesses on Groupon that run specials, which helps the pocket book. Make yourself a priority, and at least once a week give yourself some time for self-care.

8. Befriend people with different ideas or opinions than yours.

There is nothing more challenging in life than supporting someone who thinks differently than you,  but it is very possible to do. I like to think we can’t stand firmly in our own beliefs if we can’t fully understand the opposition. Befriend the opposition and find ways to connect to it. Sometimes we are more alike than we think.

9. Don’t spread fake news.

This one is hard not to do, especially in this day and age. Even some of the big news stations have been duped into spreading fake news. However, it is important to try not to engage in false realities. Fake news can start division and animosity over something that never even happened. There is enough division and hatred in this world. Don’t help fuel it with something that isn’t reputable.

10. Meditate.

Meditation has many benefits that support the body, brain, and soul. It has been key to getting me through this journey with TBI. I have always been able to use it as a tool to climb out of the circumstances I was stuck in. It can assist with the immune system, the nervous system, the endocrine system, brain balancing, setting intent, building self confidence, mental health, and many more things listed here.

11. Get out of your comfort zone.

I have tried a lot of things since TBI that were definitely out of my comfort zone. I am the black sheep of my family and I have always been a “beat to my own drum” kind of personality. When I was about 12 I became a vegetarian, and I was and am the only vegetarian to this day in my entire family. After my daughter was born, I wanted her to be able to have the choice since her dad’s food choices were different than mine. I began cooking her healthy meals with meat in them, even though before she was born I wouldn’t even touch meat. To this day she still eats some vegetarian meals, but she eats meat on a daily basis. I am a little more comfortable with cooking meat, and I am learning how to cook meals that are meat eater-approved.

12. Enjoy the moment.

One night I was at a concert having fun; the next day I was in the ICU and my life changed forever. Life is precious and it really can be changed in an instant. Seek the joys when you can. Notice the moments in life that make it so worthwhile. Smiling faces, beautiful weather, shooting stars, wildlife, a perfect breeze on a hot day. Find at least one moment each day you can stop and embrace.

13. Decide before reacting.

Life is full of intangibles, random drama and a lot of people just reacting to their environments rather than being proactive towards their dreams. Whenever I have something come up in life, I always take some time to take a few deep breaths before saying or doing anything. Then I ask myself, do I really need to pour energy into this? If I do pour energy into this, is it supporting myself and my goals or does it have poor intentions? We often spend time worrying about things that aren’t in our control, and we end up losing a lot of precious time and peace because of it.

Follow this journey on My Traumatic Brain Injury.

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Thinkstock photo by Delpixart.