The time has come again to meet the holidays head on - as the holidays approach, many families that love an individual living with a brain injury being to worry about how to navigate the season.
Parties, shopping, money worries and get-togethers can disrupt a carefully balanced scaffolding of organized life that takes little to push over. The time and planning that it takes to hold life together after a brain injury is extensive - that planning often involves the juggling of so many different things that it doesn't take much to break it apart.
This known worry can cause tremendous stress for everyone in the family, and by trying to please everyone, can often just cause the breakdown that was feared the most.
Caregivers often find themselves in what feels like a no-win situation - do they try to attend some of the parties and fun activities that come with this time of year, or do they sacrifice this time and hold together what took so much time to build?
It doesn't always have to be a complete yes or no, there are ways to still enjoy some of the parties and festivities without completely ruining the days that follow with a fatigue meltdown.
- Remember to set aside down time - Just like any other time in the day, if there needs to be down time as part of a regular schedule, it should continue during the holiday season. Although some flexibility may need to occur with the timing of the breaks, when adding increased socialization, noise and stimulation, it is always good to plan ahead and ensure that there is plenty of quiet time to balance out the increased noise.
- Don't try to do everything - Remember that you wouldn't normally pack in three or four appointments in a day, so why would you add in several parties in a day? Space out events, and find ways to be included in smaller events that won't take so much brain power to deal with.
- Know that it is okay to say "No thank you" - Not everyone knows the impact of changes to the daily schedule for someone that lives best when the schedule stays consistent. By maintaining as normal a schedule as possible, life will not erode into fatigue and anger.
Be okay with using your own judgment when looking at the holiday schedule. Only you know what will work and what won't work. It is up to all of us to ensure that the holidays remain a time for celebration and family, even for those that cannot tolerate a lot of chaos. Keeping party times shorter, events spaced out, and ensuring plenty of downtime can create a holiday time filled with fun.