Motivate yourself to complete physical activity

For many people, a barrier to physical activity is that they don’t want to do it. This could be because they view it as challenging or unenjoyable. You may feel the same way, even though you know physical activity of any kind is good for you.

If you struggle with motivation when it comes to physical activity, here are some tips to help get you excited about moving.

1. Set goals

Many people work better when they have something to move towards. The same is true of physical activity. By setting goals, you will be more motivated to complete activities.

Example: Sarah wants to be able to walk a 5 kilometre race route. Every time she goes on a walk, she goes a little further each time.

Example: Bill wants to be able to touch his toes. He does simple yoga stretches each week to help improve his flexibility.

Your personal goals can be set around time, distance, an action – whatever you want. And when you reach those goals, don’t forget to celebrate them!

2. Create a reward system

Rewards are a great way to motivate yourself, particularly if you find that other motivation tips haven’t worked for you. By incorporating rewards into your physical activity plan, you associate the activity with something you want.

Example: If Ian goes on a walk 5 days a week for a month, he’ll get himself a present he’s wanted for a long time.

Example: If Eleanor completes all her at-home exercises for 6 months, she’ll reward herself with a trip to see the Atlantic Ocean.

Rewards can be short-term or long-term, and they can be anything. This could include a take-out dinner, a new outfit, or an hour of television. The choice is up to you!

3. Pick activities you enjoy

You won’t like every activity, and that’s totally normal. Many people engage in activities they don’t love because they think they have to do it to be healthy. But that’s not true!

For example, if you don’t like running, you don’t have to run. There are plenty of ways to move. By picking the activities you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to exercise – and like it.

Example: Jamie feels good when they stretch, so they do yoga 3 times a week.

Example: Cynthia tried doing pushups, but they weren’t the right fit for her. She now uses small wrist weights.

4. Ask friends or family to do it with you

When you have someone completing activities with you, it’s another external motivator that can make physical activity enjoyable. You can set goals or set up a friendly competition, and spend some quality time with them.

Example: Joanna and her sister use Zoom to perform a series of exercises together.

Example: Glen and his son go on walks together.

5. Track your progress

It can be kind of discouraging not to see any progress when you exercise. Progress with exercise isn’t something you can see quickly or easily. It’ll take time.

One way to see your progress and keep yourself motivated is to track your exercise. You can use this downloadable physical activity tracker, or use your own system (like an app on your phone) to record your exercise. Over time you will see your progress: you may lift more weight, walk farther, or do something faster.

Example: Marcus started being able to walk 1 kilometre in 20 minutes. 6 months later he can walk 1 kilometre in 15 minutes.

Example: Sandra started lifting 3 lbs. weight, and 3 months later was up to 5 lbs. weights.

6. Use music to motivate you

Many people enjoy music. It can be incredibly uplifting and influence mood and attitude. By incorporating music into your physical activity, you can increase your enjoyment.

It also doesn’t have to be music. Some people like to watch television or movies or listen to podcasts while they exercise.

7. Adjust how you define successful physical activity

Physical activity can quickly become a chore or feel like an obligation. While it is an important part of healthy living and rehabilitation, you should not punish yourself if you miss a session or don’t reach a goal.

Instead, change how you view successful physical activity. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Any exercise is better than none. And if you miss a day? That’s okay!

8. Schedule your exercise, and pick a time when you have the most energy

Many people have full days with lots going on, and try to cram physical activity into an already packed schedule. This can lead to some stress and often a lack of motivation.

Scheduling your physical activity can help ensure you have the time for it. You should also pick the times you have the most energy: for example, in the morning after you have breakfast.

Ideas for physical activity

Physical activity has a broad definition, and there are plenty of ways you can move. And remember – any sort of movement is better than nothing. If you are concerned about what forms of activity you can engage in, speak with your medical/rehabilitation team. They will have recommendations for you.

Some examples of physical activity include:

  • Walking
  • Dancing
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Online fitness classes
  • Yoga
  • Stretching
  • Lifting weights
  • Outdoor games like catch
  • Jump rope
  • Community sports clubs for soccer, basketball, baseball, etc.
  • Skating
  • Tennis
  • Cleaning/yard work

This is just a small selection of possible physical activities. And remember, exercise is not just for your physical health – it helps with your mental and emotional health as well. That’s why it’s important to find activities you enjoy and make sure you include them in your daily living.

Ways to cope with pain at home

Pain can impact quality of life and rehabilitation. This is detrimental for both physical and mental health [1]. Chronic pain (which is consistent, long-term pain) can keep you from engaging in activities you like and engaging with others.

It can also contribute to sleep problems and impact your emotions. When you’re tired, you may notice that your pain threshold is actually worse, which then again contributes to bad sleep.

By learning to manage pain, you can improve your quality of life, manage other symptoms and focus on your rehabilitation and activities of daily living (ADLs).

Ask for help
If you are feeling pain and don’t know what to do about it, ask someone to help you. Your friends and family know you’re going through a lot, and they may be able to help you find specialists or help with other pain management techniques.
Attend counselling or support groups
Pain can lead to other issues: for example, depression [2]. Counselling and support groups can be helpful to manage your overall health and well-being. You may also find that there are other people going through something similar to you.
Avoid stressors
There are many possible sources of stress. Stress can make your pain worse [3], which can then lead to more stress.

If something is stressing you out, take a break from it. You should also make sure to keep track of your stressors, and ask for help if necessary.

Avoid substances such as alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco

Excessive consumption of substances such as alcohol can actually contribute to pain [4]. Any questions about substances should be directed to your medical team.

Care for yourself through healthy eating
We feel our best when we eat healthy foods and prioritize our nutrition. While you may be experiencing pain that makes it hard to focus on anything else, nutrition is still important. It can help you combat other potential health issues that may contribute to your pain.

Commit to developing a healthy sleep routine

Pain can interrupt sleep, which in turn leads to feelings of fatigue, anxiety, and more awareness of pain. It’s a cycle that can be incredibly difficult to break unless you start getting proper rest.

One way to work towards better sleep is to develop a healthy sleep routine.

Exercise (gently)
Sometimes pain can be related to stiffness or a lack of movement. In those cases, gentle exercises can provide some relief.
Find distractions
The more you focus on your pain, the more you may feel it. While you shouldn’t ignore your pain, finding distractions can be a good way to reduce/control your pain. This is because you’re specifically focusing on something else, which takes more of your attention away from the pain.

While this management strategy is often recommended, it may have different levels of effectiveness depending on the kind and severity of the pain [5] you are experiencing.

Track your pain
Pain is difficult for others to understand because everyone experiences pain in their own way. But the more information your treatment and rehabilitation teams have, the more they may be able to help you.

Tracking your pain using a chart or journal will not only help identify instances of pain, but may help identify what influences your pain. For example, you may feel more pain before bed because you’re fatigued. Taking more breaks throughout the day may help with that.

Work on breathing and meditation
Many people use breathing and meditation exercises to support both their mental and physical health. This can include pain management.

Two common ways to treat pain are physical therapy and medication. Physical therapy can help with improving mobility, identifying pain points, teaching proper stretching and exercise form and building your endurance for activities. Pacing strategies (strategies that help you move slowly through your day) taught to you by your therapist are also very important for managing chronic pain. It’s a long process but can yield positive results with time and patience.

Doctors may provide prescriptions for medication if appropriate. The prescription could be as simple as an over-the-counter medication. However, in some cases they may prescribe medications targeted to the type of pain that you are experiencing. It’s important for the patient to use prescribed medication correctly, and work with doctors continually for effective pain management.








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.






Managing financial stress

Money worries can be a large source of stress and anxiety. According to the Government of Canada, a survey in 2018 reported that “48% of Canadians say they’ve lost sleep because of financial worries”. Financial stress has increased even more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals have experienced reduced or lost incomes, with many peoples’ financial future remaining uncertain. This stress can greatly impact mental health and overall wellbeing.

The impact of financial stress

Finances are a common trigger for stress. Much like other forms of stress, individuals can suffer from insomnia, anxiety, depression, and increased anger and frustration. It can impact relationships with spouses, friends, work colleagues, and families. If any form of stress gets bad enough, physical and mental health can get worse. This could affect work performance, which could lead to more financial stress.

How to manage financial stress

Often stress will not go away unless the source is found and addressed. The same is true of financial stress. This is a challenge, but there are some ways you can manage your finances and manage your finance-related stress.

Ask for help
Finances can be complicated, and many people need help with them. You can ask a caregiver, friend, or family member to help you either with stress or with your finances.

If you want to better understand your finances and how they work, The Canadian Bankers Association offers free support and community programs. These programs provide education on safe online financial practices and fraud. Many banks also offer free financial advice, as well as services, to strengthen your financial skills.

Additionally, you can access the financial literacy programs through the Government of Canada, which provides you with access to workshops and videos.

Review your finances and complete a budget
The first step is to review and understand your financial situation and your financial obligations. The best way to do this is to make a budget. Your budget should include:

  • Any income you generate
  • Assets you hold
  • Debts
  • Financial commitments (such as rent, groceries, and other recurring bills

This will give you a clear picture of your financial status, and give you an effective tool for identifying financial problems.

Identify financial problems/stressors and develop a plan
By understanding your financial situation and making a budget that addresses the financial stressors, you may alleviate some stress and anxiety.

For example, if debt is the source of your financial stress, review your options for debt consolidation (combining two or more debts into one single debt) or repayments to reduce or eliminate it.

If spending is a source of financial stress for you, use your budget to set a spending limit based on your needs (groceries, electricity) versus wants. You can track your spending over the course of a few weeks to keep track of how much you save and what items may trigger impulse spending. If you know you are an emotional spender, you can look for additional ways to cope with those emotions.

If you have not been able to determine your triggers, ask for help from a loved one, a friend, or a family member. If you are not familiar with how to address financial stressors, you can talk to a financial professional.

Learn more about managing financials
Once you have a budget and have started addressing your financial stressors, you will need to manage them going forward.

Usually fear and anxiety come from the unknown. Once you have a better understanding of how to manage your money, much of that anxiety and stress will disappear. There are many free financial courses and programs available that can help you understand how to manage your finances.

Look for ways to reduce your spending
Once you have your budget in place and know how much money you spend each month, you can look for ways to reduce costs.

For example, if you order a lot of take out dinners, you can save money by eating out less. Or if you order a coffee per day from a coffee shop, you’ll save more if you make yourself a coffee at home.

Look for sources of financial assistance
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for some sort of financial aid.
Do not take any unnecessary financial risks
If you are suffering from financial stress, it is important not to take any unnecessary risks. Risky investments, compulsive spending or gambling can lead to more stress.

Understanding your financial situation and sticking with your budget is the best method to reduce your financial stress and anxiety.

Engage in self-care to manage stress
While some people do use spending as a self-care tool, there are several areas of self-care. Self-care activities should help you focus on yourself, your well-being, and overall reduce your stress.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness meditation has been found to be helpful in coping with depression among people with brain injuries [1]. Canadian studies have shown it can help lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety, decrease pain, increase energy, and improve quality of life [2].

Mindfulness meditation is often taught as an 8-week program in Mindfulness-Based Stress
Reduction and taught in clinical or community settings [3]. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) [4] has been adapted and tested in the traumatic brain injury population to treat depression in people of all severity levels [1,5]. Some hospitals and clinicians offer this program.

Since 2000, several clinical trials in MBCT have been conducted in the field of brain injury. Initially in two smaller pilot studies, the researchers found a 59% statistically significant reduction in depression symptoms, as well as improvements in anxiety, pain, energy, and quality of life [6] and at the one-year follow-up, the participants maintained improvements [6].

Another study in Ottawa found MBCT significantly reduced depression symptoms on all scales used. Similarly, it reduced pain intensity and increased energy levels [7]. The groups met for 1.5 hours a week over 8 – 12 weeks to learn modified mindfulness meditation, breathing practices, body scans, walking meditation, yoga, and reflective inquiry. It was recommended that participants meditate for 20 – 30 minutes daily.

The same research team conducted a randomized controlled trial in Thunder Bay, Ottawa, and Toronto where participants learned modified mindfulness meditation, breathing practices, body scans, walking meditation, yoga, and reflective inquiry. The groups met for 1.5 hours over 10 weeks with the recommendation to practice mindfulness meditation at home for 20-30 minutes daily. The results found a statistically significant 26% reduction in depression symptoms as measured by the Beck Depression Index-ll (BDI-ll) compared with the control group (results from larger RCTs often differ from smaller studies [1]. Three-months after the research trial finished, researchers completed follow-up tests where depression scores were shown to continue to improve. Interestingly, tests showed greater mindfulness was found to be associated with improvements in depression symptoms suggesting that MBCT for TBI may be the mechanism for improvement in symptoms [8].

Following these studies, MBCT for TBI has been accepted as a best practice and included in two Canadian clinical guidelines [9, 10]. Other research [11] has brought important insights to how mindfulness changes the brain. Following an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program like the program adapted for people with brain injuries found:

  • Increased volume in the hippocampus, as structure important for learning & memory
  • Increased volume in the cingulate cortex, as structure associated with self-awareness, compassion & introspection

See sources

9 ways to stay connected during isolation

Physical distancing means we’re all spending a lot more time at home. Many of us are missing those person-to-person connections. It’s easy to feel lonely. But there are plenty of ways you can stay connected with your family and friends while physical distancing.

1. Social media

Social media is one of the most popular ways to stay connected. There are so many different platforms that let you follow friends and family, celebrities, businesses/organizations, and create a newsfeed that keeps you entertained and engaged.
While social media is a helpful resource, it can also be overwhelming sometimes. Lots of people are posting about COVID-19, and it’s helpful to take breaks from that kind of content.

2. Texting

Most phone plans come with a texting plan. Texts are a great way to do quick check-ins with friends and family. You can also send photos, videos, and other attachments.

3. Phone calls

Phone calls are a great way to feel closely connected, no matter how much distance separates you from your loved ones. Just make sure that you’re familiar with your phone plan and how many calling minutes you have – you don’t want to accidentally raise your bill.

4. Video chats

Video chats are the best way to get the immediacy of phone calls while also seeing your loved ones’ smiling faces. Here are some free video chat apps you can use:

Please note: some of these platforms have free and paid versions. Most of these video chat platforms require an email address. You will need a stable internet connection to make or receive calls.

5. Online message apps

If you have friends and family spread out over the country, texting and phone calls aren’t really an option. If you want the immediate connection, try online messaging apps. Options include:

Remember: the people you want to chat with must also be on your chosen messaging platform.

6. Emails

Emails allow for more immediate communication with the same appeal as letter-writing. If you don’t have an email address, you can create one for free on the following platforms:

7. Letters

If you want to take a break from digital communication, writing letters is a great way to stay in touch with people. Plus, who doesn’t love receiving a letter? Whether it’s typed or handwritten, having something to open from a friend or family member makes people feel connected.

8. Join virtual groups

Many social media platforms host private or public groups that enable like-minded people to connect. One of the most common places to find groups is Facebook groups.

You can also try These groups are in various categories, and allow you to host your own as well. It’s free to sign up!

9. Digital games

Talking is great, but do you know what’s really awesome? Winning a game against your friends without leaving your couch! Thanks to the internet, it’s possible to play group games without having to be in the same room.

The following sites and apps allow you to play all kinds of fun games.

  • You can find Cards Against Humanity and other card games at
  • Pogo – sign up and play tons of classic board games for free
  • If you like more complex role-playing games, try Roll20. Please note: making the account is free, but some features cost money
  • House Party – this is a video chat app you can get on your phone, allowing you to play games on the go with your friends

Please note: When messaging, calling, using data or using the internet, you should always make sure to stay within your monthly plan limit. Some of the large telecom companies have waived long distance calling fees and data limits until April 30. This is only available from certain companies and for certain plans, so check on your provider’s website or give them a call.

Bonus: join Brain Injury Canada in our weekly challenges

Another way to stay connected is to join us in our weekly challenges. We want to bring some fun to you, so we’ve designed 12 weeks of challenges you can complete right at home. Check out the challenges on our website, and follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

A guide for mental health during COVID-19

This is a stressful time and it’s natural to feel anxious about COVID-19. Worries about the virus, physical distancing and increased isolation from others can all contribute to deteriorating mental health.

While we may feel stressed, it’s important that we all do what we can to create a positive frame of mind and take care of our mental health and well-being – and remember to pay attention to the mental health and well-being of others. For many people living with acquired brain injury, isolation is an everyday challenge. It’s stressful and lonely. With more and more accessible and virtual options being developed during the pandemic, survivors now have more options for connections. It’s important to remember this when physical/social distancing measures are lifted.

To support mental health and well-being, we’ve created this guide to help.

Tips to take care of your mental health

1. Take breaks from news and social media

It’s important to be aware of COVID-19, how to protect yourself, and any updates in your area. But the constant stream of news and social media posts can be overwhelming. If necessary, you can unfollow news social media accounts and take breaks from scrolling.

If you want to fill your newsfeed with something a little more cheerful, The Happy Broadcast focuses on positive news around the world, including updates about COVID-19.

2. Get your facts about COVID-19 from the right sources

When you do want more information about COVID-19, it’s important to get it from reliable sources. Sources include:

For some basic information about COVID-19, check out our article on social (physical) distancing, isolation, and quarantine.

3. Meditate

It might seem like a cliché, but deep breathing and meditation can be an excellent way to clear your mind, take up some time, and improve your mood. We suggest trying guided meditations – these give you something to focus on and walk you through each step.

LoveYourBrain offers guided meditations of different lengths.

4. Create a structure for your day

When you spend the majority of your day at home, it’s easy to stop keeping some sort of schedule. Creating a structure to your day will help both your to-do list and your mental health. Break big tasks up into smaller ones, and write down what you’re going to do each day.

To help you create a daily schedule, we’ve created this downloadable daily planner.

5. Exercise and get outdoors

We feel good when we are active and get fresh air. As long as you stay 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your household, you can go on as many walks as you want. Walking is a great form of exercise and a great way to clear your mind and focus on positive feelings. You can make it even more entertaining by listening to music, an audio book or a podcast while you do it.

If you want a bit more of a workout, YouTube has several videos you can use as a guide. If you’re working with a physical therapist, you can do the exercises you have learned from them as well.

6. Eat a healthy diet

As tempting as it is to dive into junk food, we feel better when we eat well. One of the ways you can plan out a healthy diet and stick to it is by creating a meal plan. A meal plan will not only take the guesswork out of what you’re making for dinner, but it will help you create a grocery list. A grocery list is a must-have when practicing physical distancing, as it can eliminate multiple trips. Meal planning is also a great way to practice your organization skills.

To help you create a meal plan, we’ve created this handy downloadable template with room for a week’s worth of meals. You can print it and put it on your fridge.

7. Limit caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine can make it difficult for you to fall asleep and lead to increased feelings of restlessness and anxiety.

Alcohol can also cause problems with sleep. It’s also not a healthy or effective coping method for stress – it can actually make symptoms associated with your mental health worse (Source: Alberta Health Services).

8. Do things that make you happy

Physical distancing means we’re spending a lot of time alone or with the other members of our households. This can lead to bouts of boredom and inactivity, which can contribute to feelings of melancholy and depression. It’s easy during this time to feel guilty about not being productive, especially if you’re comparing your experience at home to other people. But you don’t have to be productive during quarantine – you should instead focus on doing what you enjoy.

We’ve created a list of 30 things that can keep you and your family entertained.

9. Connect socially

Public health officials are recommending that instead of calling staying home social distancing, we call it physical distancing. That’s because while we need to stay physically apart, we shouldn’t stop being social with each other. We just have to come up with alternatives. Video chats, phone calls, texting and email are all great ways to stay socially connected while staying safe.

Many local brain injury associations are now offering services online. They may not be exactly the same as in-person services, but they are a great way to stay connected and stay informed.

10. Let yourself feel disappointed or frustrated – but don’t dwell on those feelings

This is a trying time – trips and outings will be cancelled, events will be missed, and a lot of services are closed. As important as these measures are for public health and safety, it’s disappointing and frustrating.

Let yourself feel frustrated and disappointed, but try to process those feelings as constructively as possible. Acknowledge you’re frustrated, but then also think about how you are going to move on and what positive steps you’ll take.

This is also great to do if you’re trying to speak with kids about COVID-19 as well. They will take their lead from you, and if you talk about your feelings and positive coping strategies, the kids will attempt to do the same.

Tips to support others during quarantine

Even though we have to stay 6 feet apart, there are still ways we can support others during this difficult time.

1. Make donations

Local food banks and other organizations are struggling to keep up with the demand as people become more and more dependent on their services. This is incredibly stressful for both workers and community members who need access to food and other services. If you are able to, a monetary donation can help support the community.

2. Support local business

Many local restaurants, shops, and services have had to close because of COVID-19. While this is important for public safety, it’s incredibly hard for the business owners who have lost their source of income.

If you are able to, try and support these local businesses during physical distancing. For example, some places are still selling gift cards and some restaurants are offering food delivery. Your support will make them feel appreciated and help them as they cope with this stressful time.

3. Reach out to people

Many of us are lucky enough to have family and friends we can speak with in person or virtually. Not everyone has someone they are closely connected to, and that can be hard when you spend long periods of time alone.

Take some time and reach out to people you know but maybe don’t talk to very often. Or post in a community group on platforms like Facebook that you’re here to talk if anyone needs it. Seeing those messages and knowing people are there to support them can really help people who are struggling right now.

4. Offer an ear – and some resources

If someone does need to talk about how they’re feeling, why not offer them an ear? It’s a great way to help someone out, and it helps you stay connected with others. However, it’s important to talk about how you feel is well: for example, if you don’t feel able to talk about COVID-19 right now or don’t want to engage in negative conversations, make sure you share that with the person. You need to take care of your own mental health as well.

If the person is open to it, offer them some resources with more information that could help them.

Resources on mental health and COVID-19

Please note: we cannot guarantee the accessibility of the sites to which we link.

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. 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 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.

Talking to family and friends about your brain injury

One of the most frustrating aspects of living with the effects of brain injury is trying to get other people to understand how you are feeling and how much you are impacted by cognitive, physical, emotional and behavioural effects.

Your friends and families may not be familiar with brain injury in any way. Therefore, they may make some comments that make you feel hurt or upset. They mean well, but they don’t know what you’re experiencing. The only way they will know is if you tell them. You can do this by creating an atmosphere of open communication and dialogue. Take the opportunity to educate them about your injury and how you are impacted. Knowledge leads to understanding and even though it can be frustrating and take patience, it is important to keep those connections with friends and family.

Some examples of comments/questions you may hear from family or friends. Remember, your friends or family members mean well and want to know how to talk with you.

“When will you get better?”
This can be hard to hear. No one wants to live with memory loss, fatigue, pain, or any of the other effects of brain injury. Unfortunately, brain injury requires a lot of time, patience and commitment to rehabilitation. You will never be the same as you were before the injury. This is something that both you and your friends/families need to talk about. Brain injury recovery does not happen overnight. You are continually recovering and adapting. Let them know how they can help and support you. Tell them what you need from them and keep them updated as it your needs change over time.
“Glad to see you back to your normal self”
Bran injury is called the invisible disability because many symptoms of brain injury aren’t immediately obvious to others. What your friend or family member doesn’t know is that to prepare to see them, you have slept for hours and will then need to sleep again to recover. Or that you spend most of your time isolated from the world to cope with your symptoms. So, while to them you look ‘normal’, you’re far from it. You may feel hurt and frustrated by the comment: but they won’t know what you’re experiencing if you don’t tell them. Let them know how much physical and cognitive fatigue impacts your daily life.  Ask them to listen and ask questions about what you are experiencing and what “normal” looks like to you.
“You never come out or hang out with us anymore”
Bright lights, loud or multiple sounds and other stimuli may be hard for you after your brain injury. Traditional environments for socializing can cause you to experience symptoms of your injury or make those symptoms worse. You may be experiencing increased social isolation, and it’s frustrating when someone says something like this. But if they don’t understand what you’re going through or how to help them. Let your friends or family members know what types of environments don’t work for you at the moment. Socialize in smaller groups or one on one at your home or a place you are comfortable. If you can control your environment, you can control your symptoms and get more enjoyment from being with your family and friends.
“I feel like you are different, and our relationship has changed”
You are dealing with a whole new set of circumstances than before your brain injury. You may be different, and that’s okay. But it can be hurtful to hear someone say something like this. It can cause you both to dwell on the past when you should be focusing on the future of your relationship. Inform your friend or family member about how you’re feeling.  Through communication and continued engagement, you can forge a new relationship path forward.  “
“Weren’t you listening? I already told you that”
You were listening, but you may be experiencing memory loss or trouble focusing after brain injury. It’s a common challenge and one that can be so frustrating for both of you.  While you can use all sorts of tips and strategies to help you assist with memory loss, you need friends and family to be patient and not critical. There is no quick fix to memory impairments, so making sure family and friends are aware and understanding of your challenges will reduce frustration on both parts.
“I don’t want to upset you. I feel like I am always walking on eggshells”
This can be hurtful and comes from a lack of knowledge about the impairments caused by brain injury.  You may be experiencing multiple symptoms of brain injury that could impact how you interact with others. For example, you might have emotional lability (which is extreme emotional reactions such as laughing or crying excessively and sometimes in inappropriate situations), chronic pain, behavioural challenges, and frustration over the changes you have gone through and that people don’t understand them. All of this is common for brain injury survivors, and it’s important to communicate this with your friend or family member. There may be times when you both get upset. By being open and honest about what’s happening, you will both be able to communicate with more consideration and thought.

These are just a small sample of what you may hear from your family and friends as everyone adjusts and adapts. They are not trying to be offensive: they are trying to be supportive. Explain to them why comments like these are hurtful and help them understand how to communicate with you in a more positive way.

Other ways to educate family and friends

Ask them to visit the Family/Caregiver section of this site and ask them to spend some time looking through the information so they can become better educated about the complexity that is living with a brain injury.

Encouraging yourself & others

When you are recovering from an acquired brain injury, energy levels can be low at certain times of the day. Because of this, you may need to prioritize your time and the activities that you engage in.

One important area to prioritize is making time for encouragement. Encouraging yourself and others is particularly valuable as you and others are navigating uncharted territory with your recovery and your plans to return to work. This step does not need to be time-consuming  or complicated. Be sure to carve out some time for this. Perhaps weekly you can make note of and acknowledge the things that have worked particularly well; something that generated a spark of anticipation or excitement; and/or a goal that you accomplished.

Just sit with your list and take a moment to encourage yourself. Did you go the extra mile with something that you thought you would not?  Make note of this. Think about others who have helped you this week. Take a moment to let them know how they helped you and the difference it made to you – be as specific as possible. By showing your appreciation to others, you are encouraging them to continue reaching out.  It also lets them know they are on the right track and it will encourage them to continue to provide assistance to support your efforts into the future.

As you are planning to return to work, it’s great that you can encourage yourself and others.  It’s a worthwhile endeavor, and the return on investment can be huge for all concerned! A brief phone call; a text; an e-mail; a written note or other ways to show your appreciation will go a long way.

So who can you encourage today?