There are plenty of possible recreational and leisure activities you can do during your recovery that can keep you entertained while helping build up your endurance. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Audiobooks, reading, and podcasts
There are so many wonderful stories out there, and plenty of ways to listen to them. If you enjoy reading, setting aside time each day is a great way to relax. If you aren’t able to read, audiobooks are readily available – you can even get them through the library thanks to free applications on your smartphone or tablet. Keep in mind you will need a library card to access the audiobooks.
If you’re interested in something a little different, try a podcast. There are a lot of free services for podcasts and they cover a wide variety of topics. They can be entertaining, educational and a lot of fun.
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts aren’t just for kids! Activities such as painting, drawing, knitting, paper crafts, and more are great for stimulating your mind, working on fine motor skills, and keeping you busy. There are so many different types of crafts out there, you’ll always have options.
For many people after acquired brain injury, cooking can become a difficult task. This is due to the energy required to cook, the difficulty of following multiple steps, and a lack of mobility. Not being able to cook on your own can be frustrating, especially if you enjoy preparing meals.
One of the ways you can get back to cooking as independently as possible is to work with your recreational therapist or occupational therapist on kitchen skills. These could include:
- Following step-by-step instructions
- Planning out a meal
- Practicing kitchen safety such as turning the stove off and on, setting timers, adaptive cutting techniques, and washing up
- Making a grocery list
- Re-learning common cooking terms
You may not be able to start cooking by yourself again right away. You may need to start with small, simple meals or have a caregiver, friend or family member help you. You’re probably going to find that you are easily distracted and impatient with the cooking process. This is a normal reaction, especially if you used to cook all the time. But don’t let yourself get discouraged if you miss a step or a meal doesn’t turn out the way it should. Learning to cook again is a process.
Additional tips to help you get back to cooking include:
- Clear any distractions out of the kitchen and clean off your prep space
- Find special cook books written to help people with brain injury recover while using their skills
- Label drawers and cupboards so you can easily find what you need
- Use assistive devices for cooking such as special knives, cutting boards, and alerts
- Use alarms and timers that you can carry with you. If possible, give them a unique name such as ‘Waiting for water to boil’ or ‘Take dinner out of oven with oven mitts’
Join local groups
Local brain injury associations and community associations often run various programs that are not only designed to be supportive and recreational but offer much-needed socialization.
Listening to music
Music can be incredibly soothing and relaxing. You can play it through your smartphone or on headphones, and use it to help you meditate, occupy your time, or even before bed.
Puzzles and games
Puzzles and games are an excellent way to improve concentration and attention later on in your recovery. They are also great activities to do with others. If you want to do them solo or are able to spend longer periods of time on a screen, you can find online versions of board games and puzzles.
Volunteering is an excellent way to fill your time, increase socialization, and give back to others at the same time. There are several types of volunteering.
- Skills-based volunteering
- Skills-based volunteering is when you take a volunteer position based on your specialized skills. For example, accountants may take volunteer book-keeping jobs. Skills-based volunteers can not only provide valuable help to an organization but can help a person hone their skills. This type of volunteering is ideal for survivors who aren’t able to return to work but still want to use their professional skills. Skills-based volunteering can be short-term or long-term, so you can find what works best for you.
- Short-term volunteering
- Short-term volunteering is ideal for people who aren’t able to commit to continuous volunteer hours. Short-term can mean a set time period or an event. These short-term roles can be faster-paced and require more flexibility and commitment for the allotted period of time or event.
- Long-term volunteering
- Long-term volunteering is focused more on maintenance and growth. The volunteer commitment generally lasts longer than 6 months, with a set number of hours per week or per month. Long-term volunteering roles are often administrative, mentoring-based, or in communications – but they can be anything an organization needs.
- Volunteer Canada defines micro-volunteering as volunteering commitments that are shorter and often require little to no oversight. Activities are designed to be done quickly, and the impact of the volunteer’s actions can be seen more immediately.
- Seasonal volunteering
- Some places or events run seasonally or require extra help around a holiday. This kind of volunteering can fall into the category of short-term and can require varying amounts of time. Seasonal volunteering can also require certain skills or abilities, so it’s important to check with the organization.
Volunteer activities could be:
- Physical activities
- Administrative activities
- Working with animals
- Working with children
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities across Canada. Ask a caregiver or support worker to help you find some options that would be right for you.
Walking is a wonderful way to get fresh air and exercise and is a nice way to boost your mood. You can do it alone or with a friend/family member or caregiver. You can also choose alternative ways to travel if walking isn’t an option for you at the time.
Yoga is an excellent way to relax and gently move your body. It also promotes proper breathing, mediation, and mindfulness. You don’t need a lot of room or equipment to do yoga either. Love Your Brain has several videos specifically for people living with acquired brain injury.