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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



5 signs that you need to pace yourself better for brain injury recovery

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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed I can be over ambitious. I’m sure there were examples of me doing this before my brain injury, but I’ve definitely got worse. Most likely it’s because I haven’t accepted that I need to pace myself more now. Whilst I might be willing, I need to recognise my “able” is a bit deflated and has shrunk.

I aim a little too high.

Some days I think as long as I’m not too tired to start with, I can still do everything I could before. And in some ways that might be true. But it could take longer, the result might not be up to the same standard, or I might never complete it. Whilst I can write this and recognise it now, my rigid thinking can make that harder when I’m in the moment.

I’m banned from buying flat pack items.

I have always been a “have a go hero”. So when I’m thinking of home improvements I’m not put off when furniture is flat pack. I’ve actually always enjoyed it. I know nothing about carpentry or joinery, so this is as close it to I will ever get. But I love the sense of achievement you get when it’s finished.

But since my brain injury there are several reasons why I shouldn’t try unsupervised.

  • No attention to detail – I don’t read the instruction properly, or study the pictures hard enough. I have forced dowling rods into holes meant for screws, and then wondered why the screw doesn’t fit in the dowling hole.
  • Lack of strength Often putting these projects together means throwing some crazy shapes whilst you try to hold things together in unimaginable positions.  But that’s even more difficult when your injury has left you much weaker than previously.
  • Pain Whilst I’m used to dealing with my “regular pain levels”, embarking on these projects is different. I can intensify them so much that I’m good for nothing for days after.
  • Fatigue Doing something so physically and mentally challenging drains me so quickly. When I started it might have felt like a good idea, but that doesn’t last long.

Learning to pace myself better.

This week I have been repainting the garage door. That would have been a breeze for me before. But I have accepted I need to do each stage one day at a time. Sanding, cleaning, painting the door and painting the wood surround have all been done on different days. Alright, the British weather might have helped to convince me to stop when a new shower passes by. But even I can admit this pace is better for me.

Learning to pace myself after a brain injury.

Signs indicating that you also need to pace yourself more:

  1. Getting more moody than normal Dealing with a chronic illness makes us moody enough. But using up your precious resources too quickly and depriving yourself, can deplete your patience for anything. (Or anyone.)
  2. Find you are obsessing about what still needs to be done The fact that you have already accomplished great things pales into insignificance. Instead the “To do” list seems to burn a hole in your head, and you can’t relax until it’s all been ticked off.
  3. You don’t leave time for yourself You never have time to have a proper meal and just snack. Or you wanted to go on a nice walk in the park, but put it off to complete your “To do” list. There’s a book you have been planning on reading, but you haven’t found the time or energy yet.
  4. You cancel other plans Many of us struggle to socialise due to our brain injuries. But if you don’t pace yourself properly you can find you’re just too frazzled even before you get there and have to cancel.
  5. You struggle to sleep You can’t switch off and so find yourself passing the time on your phone. Checking social media, reading news and emails or playing games. None of this helps you sleep until pure exhaustion takes over. But you still wake feeling drained.

If you recognise yourself in these, you too need to slow down. The modern world is getting faster every day, but slowing down is the best way for us to keep up.

How do you pace yourself differently after your brain injury? Have you found the right balance yet, or are you still adjusting?


24 replies on “5 signs that you need to pace yourself better for brain injury recovery”

I like this blog… I find I have to pace myself. My job is very mentally driven, so i do paperwork in the mornings and phone calls in the afternoon and anything that does not need brain power after that!!

At least you have got into a routine, that must help. But still unexpected things can crop up and disrupt the balance.

I use to say, “Well, I use to do this,” or think it. But, it turned into a bigger mess. Now, I get tired easily, or when I think about what I’m suppose to do, I get tired just sitting there thinking about it. I have paced myself, quite well since my brain injury.

Good, I’m glad you are good at pacing yourself. You must be a faster learner than me, as I’m only just changing my habits 😉

I still have to pace myself too, even 14 years post-stroke. It’s easier than it used to be though. I used to beat myself up over not being able to accomplish what I could in the past but now I’ve learned to allow more time and more grace to do what I need to. It takes time to figure out what you can and can’t do in a given amount of time.

I guess as you have had more experience of your injury, you have had more time to adapt. I’m still finding my feet, but I’m getting there.

Made me laugh, reminded me of me. I enrolled on an intense furniture making course and putting joints together was a real blast, most times I do resort to having to look at an assembled piece to copy.
Even after nearly 6 years I still get really tired and as you say pain level increase ad I get grumpier.
Love the blog

Thanks Graham. I’m sure that before your injury you would have made me look like such a slow coach when building flat pack pieces. Even now I suspect you could teach me a thing or two. But it does wear you out doesn’t it.

Never say never ? But I do know what you mean. I can just get so focused on completing the task that taking a break doesn’t feel like an option.

Gosh you got me so right on this! Why why why? Now I know I need to look again at what I am doing and think about pace.
I was reading your blog, thinking, yes that’s me, oh I do that, yep I get that, my goodness this is me!
Thanks for the reminder, I have got into a bad habit of keep going, to the point of exhaustion and fatigue, I suppose I start something and rather than pace myself, I push it, but I just want to complete a task, for once. I am sick of being defeated by this brain injury, to the point I am battling with myself.
Silly eh?, if I never fully rest, eat, recharge, then I am not treating myself well, or my brain, in fact my whole wellbeing is suffering.
It’s so easy to fall into this trap, I don’t want to admit that the old Joanne who could do very easily at multitasking, was strong, skilled, full of bubbly energy has gone, for good. It’s depressing, but also it’s that feeling of hopelessness when fatigue and mistakes happen.

Having a brain injury doesn’t mean we are less intelligent, it’s that now our brain needs more energy, because its working harder to process so much information to complete a task.

Life balance comes to mind.

That’s what pace is, everything in moderation. A managing strategy that gives some control back, I’ve not seen it like that before.
I was thinking pace is another negative, I have to adapt to being slow, but actually it’s a positive to be productive but in a safer way,

Thanks for this, I will keep my eye on my pace again.

I hope it helps you get into some better habits. It’s hard though, so don’t be mean to yourself when you find you’ve pushed too much again. It’s an aim to move towards, not achieve immediately.

14 years post brain injury and I’ve only just begun to accept that my brain has its own schedule for improvement, as much as I want to and as hard as I push I just can’t speed it up. It’s just about patience and doing the best you can.

I was in a really bad cat accident and it’s been a year. I was diagnosed with post concussion symptoms and have struggled with brain fog ever since my accident. I have no desire to do anything I used to like doing. I didn’t know where to begin. After reading this I may have to do some research and take the advice given on here which is pace. Thank you.

Brain fog is such a common and frustrating symptom. Pacing is very important. I wish you all the best for your recovery.

Hey Maryann,
I can relate! Concussion/post concussion syndrome coming up for 3 years. I still over do it. It is very frustrating. On days I push I pay the fatigue price through the next day! As a overachiever it is difficult to pace. I always enjoy reading and relating to information on this site.

Glad I found this! I’m 4 and a half months into my TBI and everything here sounds exactly like what I’m experiencing! I’m in the process of figuring out treatment and have been very curious about Neurofeedback. Have you or any of your bloggers tried it? It sounds amazing and potentially better than years of re-adjusting how you have to do things, that scares me the most!

Hi Lori, glad you have found this useful. I haven’t personally tried neurofeedback but I’ve read positive things about it. I think the key to any rehab is that it needs to focused on what specific areas you need to develop, and if this method helps you identify those areas it sounds like a good thing to me.

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