Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health After Brain Injury
The relationship between brain injury and mental health is complex. While the connection is under-researched, we know that brain injury can be both an entirely separate issue from mental health and a trigger for the development of new mental health issues. The effects of brain injury and mental illness can look very similar. Understanding the similarities and differences between the two is important for individuals to advocate for themselves and for medical professionals to make accurate diagnoses.
A shift in mental health can impact a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, act, make choices, and relate to others – it’s an essential part of our overall health and quality of life. Remember, mental health is more than the absence of a mental illness. Below are a few things you can use in your daily life to help develop a healthy and positive relationship with your mental health.
Self-care can play a role in maintaining your mental health and helping to support your treatment and recovery if you have a mental illness. Consider these self-care tips:
- Create a morning and nighttime routine. During this time, you can stretch, practice mindful breathing, meditate, journal, or simply think about some daily affirmations.
- Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. It’s important to note that blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so try to reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.
- Try to exercise each day. You don’t have to hit the gym or run a mile to feel accomplished – exercise can be achieved through yoga, taking a walk, or jumping rope right in your living room.
- Create lists to help you stay on track. Creating lists can be calming. Some examples include planning out your goals for the week, creating a grocery list, or putting together a to-do list for the day.
- Try to focus on one thing at a time. It can be overwhelming to think about too many things at once. Instead of thinking about long to-do lists and possible scenarios, try to focus on one thing at a time.
- Ask for help when you need it. Asking for help is not easy, but it’s often necessary. Whether you are asking someone to pick up groceries for you, help you remember a doctor’s appointment, or just provide a listening ear – know that it is OK. If you are a friend or loved one of a person with a brain injury, offer to help before you are asked.
Try Affirmations for Better Mental Health
Affirmations, also called self-affirmations, are thoughts you intentionally come up with to support, encourage, and calm your brain and body. They typically consist of positive statements used to challenge negative, depressing, or anxiety-producing thoughts. Try using some of these affirmations to help you stay positive:
- I am strong.
- I am enough.
- I have faith in my abilities.
- I am grateful for what I can do.
- I am happy to be me.
- I am on the right path for me.
- I will turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
- I honor my body by trusting the signals that it sends me.
- Though these times are difficult, they are part of the journey of life.
- One step at a time, one day at a time is progress.
To learn more about the link between brain injury and mental health, check out these resources:
- Butch Alterman Webinar: Mindfulness
- Butch Alterman Webinar: Resilience & Moving Forward After Brain Injury
- Brain Injury Association of Virginia: Mental Health & Brain Injury Quick Guide
- TBI Factsheet: Emotional Problems after Brain Injury