There are lots of things you and your support team can do to improve your mental health.
Set attainable goals
Recovery takes time, and one of the quickest ways to stress yourself out is expecting too much from yourself after a brain injury. Focus on setting attainable goals for your recovery- your doctors, therapists, and family can help. Depending on where you are in your recovery, these goals will change.
By setting both short-term and long-term goals, you’ll be able to better track your achievements and feel good about the hard work you’ve done.
Ask for help
After your brain injury, you may need help doing certain things. Many people have a hard time asking for help - especially if it’s a task they used to be able to complete on their own.
Asking for help can reduce stress and allow for skill development so that tasks you find stressful today may not be in the future.
Join a support group
No one understands or relates to you more than people who are in the same position as you. The brain injury community across Canada has many support groups, often run through centres or brain injury associations.
By joining a support group, you not only find a valuable resource for yourself, but you open yourself up to more social experiences and meet new people and friends.
One way to help improve your mental health is to work with a doctor to find a medication that helps you.
Medication should never be taken if it is not prescribed by a doctor who has met with you and given you an official diagnosis.
Participate in fun activities
When you do things that make you happy, they have a positive impact on your mental health.
While everyone has different preferences, here are a few possible activities:
- New hobbies
- Physical activity
- Yoga and meditation
While some of these may not be for you, there are plenty of activities out there. Ask your family or rehab team for suggestions.
Take care of your body
By taking care of your body, you also take care of your mind. The best ways to take care of your body include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Maintaining regular sleep patterns
Create a schedule
When you have lots of things to do in a day, it can be overwhelming to look at one big list. It can have an effect on your mental health when you feel like you can’t accomplish things.
By making yourself a daily schedule - or having someone help you make a schedule - you’ll have a more manageable list of things to do, and you’ll be much more likely to complete them once time has been set aside for each task.
Engage in social activities
It’s important to have social interactions on a regular basis. Engaging in social activities has positive long-term benefits for mental health.
Examples of social activities include:
- Attending a community workshop or class
- Having regular outings to a coffee shop or restaurant
- Joining a local club
- Participating in day trips or events
- Visiting friends and family members
Therapies are a great way to improve your mental health. After a brain injury, you’ll be working with different therapists for different areas of your rehabilitation. Adding in therapy with a psychologist will give you a safe place to share your stress or concerns. In return they provide a professional ear and recommendations/treatment that can help your mental health. Depending on where you live, you may have to pay out of pocket for psychology services. You should consult with your insurance provider, any work insurance you have, and look at what is covered by the provincial, territorial or federal government.
If you are First Nations or Métis, there may also be support services available.
- Programs and services for First Nations, Métis, and Indigenous communities
- First Nations Health Authority
Mental health resources
- Referral guide for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Find your Canadian Mental Health Association
- The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association of Canada
- The Canadian Mental Health Association
- Suicide Prevention Handbook
Disclaimer: There is no shortage of web-based online medical diagnostic tools, self-help or support groups, or sites that make unsubstantiated claims around diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Please note these sources may not be evidence-based, regulated or moderated properly and it is encouraged individuals seek advice and recommendations regarding diagnosis, treatment and symptom management from a regulated healthcare professional such as a physician or nurse practitioner. Individuals should be cautioned about sites that make any of the following statements or claims that:
- The product or service promises a quick fix
- Sound too good to be true
- Are dramatic or sweeping and are not supported by reputable medical and scientific organizations.
- Use of terminology such as “research is currently underway” or “preliminary research results” which indicate there is no current research.
- The results or recommendations of product or treatment are based on a single or small number of case studies and has not been peer-reviewed by external experts
- Use of testimonials from celebrities or previous clients/patients that are anecdotal and not evidence-based
Always proceed with caution and with the advice of your medical team.