A lot of the time being positive after a brain injury is difficult, but it’s definitely worth the effort. For a while after my brain injury, I struggled to come to terms with the changes and the way I was feeling. The new phenomena of social media made me really unhappy, I didn’t understand filters and people only posted photos that made their life look amazing! It seemed that everyone was beautiful, healthy-looking and happy, except me! The reality I’m sure was very different, but that is the way I felt, and I wanted something to change. I wanted to change into a happy person, but how was this going to happen? If I continued in the mindset I was in then tomorrow and every other day after that would be the same, so I had to do something for myself.
These days I consider myself to be a happy and positive person (most of the time anyway); that didn’t happen by accident. Here are my tips on how to stay positive after a brain injury.
First and foremost if I wanted to be a happy person, then I should at least look like one! I couldn’t be that negative person that people think of when they think misery; a happy smiling face is so much more attractive than a miserable one. I read that smiling releases the hormones dopamine and serotonin in the brain, sparking a feeling of happiness, try it! Smile whenever you can.
2) Get plenty of sleep
Hahaha, I wish! The most I have ever managed is about 7 hours in one go I think but make sure you have plenty of naps as well! Resisting the opportunity to rest thinking it will improve your stamina, unfortunately, doesn’t work. Pushing it a little has worked for me, but pushing too hard has only served to make me exhausted. Being exhausted all the time from fatigue is not going to make you happy. Aim to eliminate the feeling of tiredness whenever you can; you should aim to take naps before you need them. You feel best when you have your highest energy levels, so aim to keep yourself in that state for as long as possible. Schedule regular naps into your routine; you get used to them, and that becomes like a second bedtime. Try having a rest at the same time each day, for an hour at first. I had my brain injury 12 years ago, and I still have to have a nap. Its only 20 mins these days but I need it. I have tried to go without it in the past, but I end up exhausted. It’s not a sign of weakness or laziness, its just downtime for my brain.
3) Don’t fixate on one thing
You shouldn’t become fixated on one thing and assume that it will bring you happiness. Try and get happiness from a number of things so as not to put all your eggs in one basket as the saying goes. Today in the age of social media, celebrities are idolised as perfection. They are assumed to be the happiest people alive, but you only have to look at the publicised problems of famous people to know that this is not the case. There is a great quote by Jim Carrey: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Scaling things down from Hollywood to the life of me, somebody told me that a happy person is content in their work life, their home life and their social life. If you concentrate too much on any one of the above, then the other two will go wanting. For example, if someone prioritises their work, then their life at home will suffer, and they lose touch with their friends.
4) Surround yourself with positivity
I have found something that works for me and came, bizarrely from a lyric of a song by Destiny’s Child I think; it said something along the lines of “I surround myself with positive things”. As strange and farfetched as this sounds, it actually makes sense. You should aim to have positivity around you. Try to spend time with people who make you happy and positive. And try and make an effort to see the positivity in everything you do and those around you – don’t focus on what you can’t do or what you dislike about people, instead focus on what you can and concentrate on people’s good side! You can’t change everyone to be just how you like them, bear in mind that you have your faults too, trying to change people and being negative will only push them away isolating yourself in the process. Then who wins? A bit of tolerance goes a long way!
These are just some of the things that help me to stay happy and positive, but there’s plenty of other things you could try. And remember, if you’re struggling then speak to someone about your worries. Whether it’s a family member, friend or even your doctor, you should ask for help if you need it.