15 ways to stimulate creativity

The pandemic has been stressful for everyone, and for the majority of people has led to an increase in time at home and alone time. For some people, this has meant more time – and more inspiration – for creative projects. For others, it’s the opposite: they’re struggling to feel any inspiration.

Creative activities are when you make or participate in an enjoyable and fulfilling project. Whether you like to write, paint, draw, craft, cook, play music or do something else entirely, these are all examples of creative activities.

Reconnecting with your creativity can help improve your mental health during the pandemic and beyond. There have been several studies that explored how creativity can improve moods and cognitive health [1, 2, 3]. These studies explored a variety of creative activities, including visual arts, music, and writing.

Here are some ways you can stimulate your creativity.

1. Accept mistakes

Some people get frustrated when a creative project doesn’t turn out exactly how they wanted. If you’re constantly wanting everything to be perfect, you may find yourself struggling with your creativity. It can be discouraging to make or find a mistake, but instead of giving up on your creative endeavour, embrace it.

Practice reframing your view on mistakes. Don’t think of them as flaws, but as details that make your creative project unique. And remember – practice will help you make improvements to your skills in all areas of life.

2. Check in with your mood

How are you feeling today?

Your mood can impact your creativity. Studies have shown that positive moods can enhance creativity. So, if you’re feeling unhappy, angry, or sad, you may not want to engage in a creative activity.

Don’t push yourself to be creative if it’s not helping your mood. Instead, turn your attention to other ways you can make yourself happy.

3. Collaborate with others

Creativity doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Often asking for feedback from others or collaborating on a creative project with friends/family will help jumpstart your imagination.

4. Daydream

We’ve all been there – we’re supposed to be focusing on one thing, but our mind wanders. Why not let it?

You should keep safety in mind (you don’t want to daydream while cooking or doing your exercises), but having some daydreaming time can be a great way to spark creativity. Keep a journal close at hand so that if you have a good idea, you can jot it down.

5. Dedicate a space to creating

Many people are working, living, and entertaining themselves at home. This means a lot of home areas are serving multiple purposes. For example, dining room tables have become offices and homework stations. When an area serves multiple roles, it can feel hard to escape to a creative place.

It may take some reorganizing, but if creative projects are a priority for you, dedicating a space in your home can help give you the separation you need to be creative.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others

You are your own person, and what you create is uniquely yours. It’s important not to compare yourself to others who have more years of experience or do things differently than you. This will only lead to discouragement, and may make you want to stop creating altogether.

7. Exercise

Exercise is another building block of healthy daily living. When you feel good and let your mind take a break by focusing just on the exercise, you will feel refreshed both physically and mentally.

Remember, there are several different forms of exercise, and any sort of movement or activity has benefits.

8. Get outdoors

Fresh air and outdoor activity is an important part of taking care of your overall health and well-being. It can improve your mood, make you feel more energetic, and help your mental health and creativity.

9. If you don’t love something, don’t be afraid to walk away

Creativity thrives when you enjoy the activity. If you don’t love painting or drawing or writing or any other extracurricular/hobby, you don’t have to keep doing it. There are hundreds of ways you can spend your time, and you should spend it enjoying yourself.

10. Journal your thoughts

There’s a lot of thoughts running through our minds at any given point, particularly during stressful times such as a pandemic. If you’re working on your recovery, balancing work, and coping with a pandemic all at the same time, that’s a lot of thoughts racing through your mind. It can be overwhelming.

Journaling your thoughts can be a way to get them out of your mind and help you process the information. It can also leave your mind free for more creative activities.

11. Keep an inspiration list

Anything can be a source of inspiration. Maybe you follow a crafting blog; maybe you saw a video on your social media. Wherever you find inspiration, write it down or bookmark it on your computer. When you need ideas or inspiration, you can use that list as a resource.

12. Listen to music

While some people work well in silence, others need more background noise. Or maybe you need to shake things up. Music is an excellent way to improve your mood while simultaneously helping spark creativity.

13. Reset with meditation

Sometimes we need to walk away from what we’re doing in the moment and have a reset. Meditation can help you clear your mind, find your focus, and give yourself a rest.

14. Take a break

While there is something to be said for perseverance, sometimes taking a break from an activity or project can do just as much good for your creativity. Giving your brain a break and turning your attention to something else may trigger your imagination.

If you find yourself struggling, remove yourself from the situation and try something else (grab a snack, take a nap, put on a television show – anything that will help you rest).

15. Trust your gut and make more spontaneous decisions

Creativity often comes from trying new things. But many of us want to take some extra time to think before we come to a yes or no decision. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, if creativity is something you’re struggling with right now, thinking a little less may actually help.

Aim to be a bit more spontaneous by trusting your first instinct. This could be about trying new activities, new foods, new books – anything you want! You may discover new things about yourself in the process.

If you are someone who needs assistance with impulsive behaviours, keep in mind that this tip is specifically for creative projects. When in doubt, ask someone you trust for their opinion on your decision.


[1] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101035

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201512/creativity-wellness-practice

[3] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049


Weekly challenges during physical distancing

We’re all doing our part by practicing physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected. Brain Injury Canada has created a list of weekly challenges to inspire some fun at home. You can do these challenges in order along with us, or you can pick and choose which ones you like. We’re encouraging everyone to be #TogetherApart by sharing the results of your challenge on social media. Don’t forget to also use the hashtag #BICChallenge and tag us!

1.Try a new recipe

We all have our favourite recipes, but now is the perfect time to experiment to try a new recipe. It can be simple, complex, sweet, or savoury, but it should be something you’ve never made before. If you’re with family, ask them to participate. Make sure to pick the recipe you want to try before you create your shopping list so you’ll have all of your ingredients. Resources to find a new recipe:

2. Exercise each day

This doesn’t mean you have to work up a sweat – it just means get your body moving in some way. Examples of exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • An at-home workout video
  • Dancing
  • Stretching

Aim for 20-30 minutes a day of moving each day of the week.

3. Take a photo a day

Most of us have phones with cameras. Now is the time to take advantage of them by finding and photographing interesting things in our homes and outside. Photographs are a great way to preserve and share memories. If you don’t have a camera, you can create a word picture: write down or type a description of the object or scene you would like to photograph. Editing photographs can also be incredibly fun. If you want to add a professional touch to your snapshots, check out these free video editing applications that allow you to edit right on your phone. If you prefer to edit on a computer, there are also free online editing platforms. If you want to take it to the next level, there is an application for smartphones called 1 second everyday. You record a 1 second video each day, and your app turns them into a movie. It’s a fantastic way to keep a quick daily diary, and fun to look at later on.

4. Listen to one new musical artist a day

Music is a wonderful thing, and there are so many artists out there to discover. Now is the perfect time to try and find new musicians. You could even discover a brand new genre you’ve never tried before. There are several places you can discover new music.

Please note: some of these players have free and paid versions with different features. If you really aren’t sure where to start, try Gnoosic. Gnoosic is an online search tool specifically for music. It asks you to name some of your favourite bands/musicians, and gives you a recommendation. You can then select whether you like it, don’t like it, or if you aren’t sure. It then gives you another suggestion. Don’t worry, it doesn’t ask for any personal information. Many musical artists are now offering free online concerts through their social media pages. Billboard.com has posted a schedule, which they update regularly. Not only can you find new artists to listen to, but you can check out a concert from the comfort of your own home – and at the volume you want.

5. Learn one new skill

When you’ve got some extra time, you can try learning a brand new skill. This could be anything!

  • Knitting
  • Learning a language
  • Pet tricks
  • DIY home repairs that are safe to do
  • How to play a new game
  • How to draw or paint
  • Play an instrument
  • Make decorations and other crafts
  • Creating a budget

There are videos and how-to articles for a lot of skills out there (try YouTube), and you can take as much time as you need to practice.

6. Drink the recommended amount of water each day

This one seems simple – but most of us don’t get the recommended amount of water each day. It’s important to drink plenty of water for our overall health and happiness. We’ve all heard the ‘8 cups a day’ rule. While that is a generally good rule to follow, factors such as exercise, the outside environment, and your overall health. Medical experts say that a good way to get the right amount of water is to drink a glass with each meal and between each meal. You should also drink before, during and after exercise and if you feel hungry/thirsty. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, there are a few smartphone apps that can help remind you.

7. Do one nice thing for yourself a day

It’s nice to be productive while practicing physical distancing, but it’s more important to feel good. Sometimes that means not being productive, but doing something nice for yourself instead. Self-care is something we should all be doing, and now is a great opportunity to explore new ways to make yourself happy. Some self-care ideas include:

  • Having a bath
  • Treating yourself to a favourite snack
  • Having a nice nap
  • Do some organization
  • Watch your favourite movie
  • Read a good book

If it’s something you enjoy doing, it counts as a self-care activity. So let your imagination run wild!

8. Support a local business or charity

Many local businesses and charities are struggling right now. They have either had to close down, or have moved their business online either through a website or social media. There are many ways you can support a local business or charity

  • Order a meal to be delivered
  • Purchase a product or gift card
  • Make a donation
  • Share their social media posts on your own pages with friends and families

By looking for local places to support, you might even find something brand new!

9. Send a letter/email to someone you love

Some of us are at home with family or roommates. But many people are home alone – this can be incredibly lonely. For this challenge, write a letter or an email to someone you know. Try to focus on people who would appreciate hearing from a friend, especially if they live on their own.

10. Make a time capsule

Time capsules aren’t just for grade school projects – it’s also great for adults. A time capsule is a container you fill with meaningful items, seal up, and put away until a future date. There are many options for things you can put in a time capsule. It can be treasured items, magazine/newspaper clippings, notes to your future self, photographs, or little crafts. Here’s a great guide on making a time capsule.

11. Write yourself a letter

You don’t have to make a time capsule to write yourself a letter. Futureme.org is a website that allows you to write to your future self and select when you want to receive it. It will then send you an email with that letter when the time comes. Many people who have used the free service say they completely forgot about their letters until they found them in their email – and they were touched by the things their past selves said. If you would prefer to keep your letter handwritten, seal it up in an envelope and write your name and the date you want to open it on the outside. Then have it put in a place where you won’t lose it.

12. Read a book

With the amount of digital entertainment available, many of us don’t get to read as much as we’d like. This challenge is simple – start (and if possible, finish) a book you have wanted to read. If you don’t have any books in your home, check to see if your local or provincial library system has digital services. You can also give audiobooks a try. Audible is run by Amazon, and you can sign up and get one free book. It does have a monthly cost after a free trial, so make sure to thoroughly read all the sign up rules. You can also purchase audiobooks from Indigo.

More challenges you can try yourself

30 ideas to entertain yourself during social distancing

Social distancing is incredibly important as Canadians try to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. But that does mean we’ll all be spending a lot of time at home. It’s easy to get bored and feel lonely. To combat boredom and keep yourself entertained and happy, check out this list of ideas and activities

Remember: you should do whatever makes you feel happy. Don’t forget to take breaks when you need to. And if you have family or friends with you, ask them to participate!

Feel-good activities

1. Go for a walk

Walking is completely fine during social distancing – just remember to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others.

2. Write letters

Not many people take the time to write letters anymore – but everyone loves receiving them. If you want to work on your fine motor skills or just do something a little old-fashioned, letter writing is a great activity. In order to make sure we all do our part to keep everyone safe and healthy, you should only send letters if you’re not showing any symptoms. It is possible for COVID-19 to live on paper for a period of time. Alternatively, you could write your letters and send them at a later date. Please note: Canada Post is providing updates on their response to COVID-19.

3. Exercise

People feel better when they get some physical activity in – even if it’s just a light walk. If you want more of a workout, there are plenty of online videos and apps that offer free workouts.

4. Yoga at home

If you have a small stretch of floor, you can do a little yoga. Yoga is an excellent way to relax and gently move your body. Love Your Brain has several videos specifically for people living with acquired brain injury.

5. Meditate

Meditation is a lovely calming practice that works to clear your mind and help ease negative feelings. Love Your Brain has some guided meditations you can do.

6. Spring cleaning

There’s something satisfying about spring cleaning – many people use it as an opportunity to purge unused items and rearrange their home to create a fresh new space. Just make sure to take breaks and ask for help when you need it.


There are tons of ways to stay entertained thanks to digital media, games, and crafts.

7. Streaming services

There are tons of streaming services out there that can give you access to hundreds of movies, television shows and documentaries. All you need is an internet connection and an account. Prices for streaming services range, but many have free trial periods so you can test them out first. Some streaming services available in Canada include:

  • CBC Gem (psst! This one is free)
  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Crave
  • Disney+
  • AppleTV+

The great thing about streaming is you can pause whenever you want. You also don’t necessarily need a television – just a computer with Internet access.

8. Play board or card games

Board games and card games are a great way to pass the time, and can be incredibly helpful with memory as well.

9. Make your own board game

Have you mastered all your board games? It’s time to take it to the next level and make your own. This is a great craft idea you can spread out over the coming days and is a great group activity if you’re home with other people. Instructions on how to make a board game.

10. Complete some puzzles

Puzzles are interesting, take lots of time, and great for all ages! You can even do them online if you don’t have any in your house.

11. Check out library books online

Many libraries in Canada have online services where you can check out electronic books and audiobooks. Your local library will have information on available services.

12. Read from your own shelf

If you have a couple books you’ve been wanting to get to, now is the perfect time!

13. Video message your friends and family

Video messaging is a great way to stay connected to family and friends while respecting the social distancing rules. Here are some free video chat apps you can use.

14. Listen to music

Not many of us take the time to sit quietly and listen to music we enjoy. Now is the perfect time to do just that.

15. Listen to podcasts

Podcasts are a great alternative to television or reading. They’re easy to download and there are so many different podcasts from which to choose. There’s something for everyone!

16. Follow some YouTube tutorials for crafts

Painting, knitting, crocheting, sewing – there are so many crafts and skills you can learn. Being creative is a great way to boost your mood, and it can be incredibly relaxing as well.

17. Colour a masterpiece

Colouring is incredibly therapeutic and relaxing – and what better way to spend your time than colouring some works of art? Some museums and libraries have made colouring books that are free to download. You can find them here.

Education resources

18. Try a free online university course

Universities in Canada and the United States sometimes offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These either have a dedicated start date or you can take them at your own pace. Courses often take a few weeks to complete, but only require a couple hours a week. This is ideal if you want to explore a subject that interests you. Coursera.org hosts many of these online courses. For free courses offered by Canadian universities, check out this list. If you want to explore courses offered by Ivy League universities (U.S.A.), visit this link. Tip: If you need to take a course at your own speed, look for courses that are self-paced.

19. Learn a new skill

What’s great about YouTube is that you can pause a video whenever you need to take a break and learn at your own pace! If there’s something you want to learn, chances are you can find it there.

20. Spend a few minutes a day learning a language

Duolingo is a free service designed to teach languages with quick daily lessons. You can choose from all kinds of languages and have some fun trying something new.

Virtual tours

Take some of the world’s coolest tours – all from the comfort of your own home.

21. Museum tours around the world

Visit international museums and take in some of the world’s most celebrated art.

Google Arts and Culture has plenty more virtual tours of museums and historical sites. You can relax and take your time exploring the sites.

22. Check out Mars

You can go to a whole other planet! Explore the surface of Mars with this digital 360° camera.

Animal fun

Thanks to live webcams and videos, it’s possible to see some pretty incredible animals we wouldn’t normally get to see.

23. Explore all kinds of animal life

Explore.org has hundreds of live cams that let you check out all kinds of animals – including puppies!

24. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium has 4 live cams featuring some of their cutest critters. You can find them here.

25. Beluga whales

There’s a beluga whale webcam set up at the Georgia Aquarium – and they know how to work the camera! The Georgia Aquarium also has more live cams you can check out.

26. Watch the Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams

Monterey Bay Aquarium has multiple live cams that explore all kinds of marine life – including sea otters!

27. Africam

Africam offers people a live safari from the comfort of their own home. Find their cams here.

Cooking activities

28. Have an indoor picnic

This is great for kids (or kids at heart). Find a space in your home to spread out a blanket and have your lunch or dinner picnic-style!

29. Pizza night

Homemade pizza night is fun for everyone. You can use premade dough and everyone can add their own toppings. It’s a fun, collaborative way to make dinner – and a great introduction to cooking for people who are just learning.

30. Check out some cooking tutorials

If you have some time on your hands, try out some new recipes or cooking tutorials, or practice your prep skills.

Stay safe and do things that make you happy

It’s normal to feel anxious about what’s going on – but you’re doing your part by respecting social distancing. It’s challenging, but these activities – and other things that make you happy – will keep you and your loved ones entertained and engaged.


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.

Activity planning assessment tool

Over time, an acquired brain injury survivor may experience some challenges with mapping the progress of their recovery. In some situations, things may seem muddled in together, perhaps creating a sense of distress as it becomes difficult to identify the real progress that is being made.

As individuals evaluate how things are going overall, on a specific activity basis, it can also be helpful to acquire some concrete assessment information.  This data will help to map the gains being made.

The following Activity Planning Assessment Tool can be used as a companion throughout the recovery process.


  1. Track progress
  2. Identify activities that bring positive results overall
  3. Understand how participating in various activities might bring on symptoms
  4. Identify activities that may be challenging, yet overall are beneficial to engage in
  5. Develop strategies to manage symptoms

The first part of this assessment is to build awareness about the types of activities you typically engage in, and to determine how your participation in these may affect you and others.

You can choose to answer these questions by recording your responses, or you can go through the list and make a mental note of your thoughts. You can also discuss your responses with a trusted partner; family member; friend or colleague.

The debriefing questions will bring to light any comparisons, challenges and/or gains that you are making, and will allow you to prioritize which activities you might like to engage in.

Using this information, you can choose to invest your time and energy where you believe is the most appropriate for you at this point in time. It’s important to note that while you may choose not to participate in something now, you may feel like you will want to in the future. With this in mind, the assessment is also a good opportunity to help you to identify these activities for the future.

Building Awareness:

  • What is the activity that I am considering?
  • Overall, is this an activity that I want to engage in?  Why?
  • What positive results might this bring to me?  How will this affect me and/or others?
  • What negative results might this bring to me?  How will this affect me and/or others?
  • Will participating in this activity affect my energy level?  In what way?
  • If this does drain my energy, what are the energy management strategies that I can develop to address this?
  • Is this activity something that I have participated in pre-injury?
  • In my estimation, this is how I will be feeling after this activity
  • In my estimation, the recovery time following this activity will be
  • What is the value that I am contributing to this activity?
  • What value will this activity bring to me and/or others by my participating?


  • If you have participated in this activity pre-brain injury, how does this time compare overall?
  • What were you aware of this time?
  • How did you feel when you were participating in this activity?
  • In reality, this is how I felt after this activity.  Compare this to your estimate above.
  • In reality, this is the recovery time following this activity.  Compare this to your estimate above.
  • Were there any specific symptoms brought about as a result of engaging in this activity?
  • At what point, if at all, did you begin to feel your energy drain?
  • What do you believe contributed to this?
  • Describe specifically how you knew your energy was draining/what was happening?
  • What did you do?
  • If you pushed through it, what happened next?
  • Describe any gains, no matter how small or big that you experienced.
  • Did you receive any comments/feedback/encouragement from others either prior to, during or following the activity?  What were they saying?
  • Did participating in this activity give you any confidence?  In what way?
  • What, if any adjustments could you make in order to improve the results for next time?
  • Would you participate in this activity again in the future?
  • On balance, is the activity worth your time investment and engagement?

Back-up Plans and Developing an Exit Strategy

  • Part of deciding to engage in an activity will depend on whether you have a back-up plan and/or if you have an exit strategy developed. Following are a couple of examples of this.
  • Rather than commit to attending a full event, perhaps you can agree to attend on a reduced timeframe. This plan balances out having to take an all or nothing approach. You are signaling that you are interested in attending, yet at the same time you may not be able to manage the full event and the potential sensory overload.
  • If you would like to attend a concert or a ballet – but you are not certain if you can sustain the energy required, or manage the sensory stimulation – have an exit strategy pre-arranged. Tell your partner or whomever you are attending the concert with that you would like to experiment by attending. However you may not be in a position to remain for the full concert. On a pre-arranged signal, should you need to leave, you can exit the concert when suitable.
  • For pre-planning, when you purchase your tickets, plan to sit on the end of a row. This way, you will know that you are not disrupting anyone should you have to leave.
  • If attending a movie, plan to arrive just as the movie begins. Avoid the trailers as they can be noisy and visually disturbing. Pre-plan as much as you can. Step out if you have to. Try this out to see how long you can stay in a movie theater. In the beginning, attend a quieter movie and build from there.
  • Go to the concert or movie prepared, bring sunglasses, earplugs or other noise dampening devices.
  • If you normally bowl three games, if you feel ready – try one game.
  • Sudden energy crashes can occur. To the extent possible rest or sleep prior to attending an event. On the way there, reduce any noise and/or distractions. Remain as calm as possible and connect to the positive aspects of taking this step.
  • If you are somewhere alone and you need to leave unexpectedly, always have a back-up plan developed. Whether this is a pre-arranged ride that you can contact; money on-hand for a cab or a ride-share, it will be important for you to know that you will have some support with returning home. This step will give you confidence as you begin to experiment with re-engaging in social and/or other activities.

The benefits of pre-planning are far reaching:

  • Opportunity to experiment with re-engaging in social and/or other activity; assess and adjust as may be required for the next time.
  • Maintain control over the factors you can control – and on your own terms.
  • Allows for energy mapping strategies to work in your favor.
  • Brings enjoyment and fulfilment back into your routine.
  • On a holistic level, it will balance out your overall outlook.