By Colleen Butler
Colleen Butler, author of “Concussion Recovery: Rebuilding the Injured Brain,” is offering practical advice to help with the recovery from brain injury.
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After my concussion I have become very emotional and can cry for no reason, it is embarrassing and frustrating. What can I do to stop these out bursts of emotions? — Jack
Boy do I ever know how that feels! At certain stages of my recovery someone would simply say, “Hi, how are you today?” and I would with great embarrassment start crying for no reason and blubber out something like, “Fine, thank you!”
The first thing and the most important is, be kind to yourself. Recognize these are natural results of a concussion so be patient, forgiving and gentle to yourself. Your brain has been shaken up and needs time to make new connections. The harder you are on yourself, the slower the recovery. A brain injury has a journey all of its own.
Consider you brain like a bottle of Italian oil and vinegar dressing with spices. The spices are the hormones and the oil is left and the right is the vinegar. Shake the bottle up, and all the spices or pieces are there, just a little mixed up. After a blow to the head that is what happens to your brain — it needs time to settle down. And make new connections.
There are a few things you can do to keep yourself off the emotional roller coaster:
- Sleep when you need to, as long as it does not interfere with you getting eight hours of sound sleep per night.
- Reducing the stress in your life will allow you to stay in a peaceful state. When you are stressed, you revert to fight-or-flight mode. This do-or-die state increases the production of cortisol, which affects our weight and then our self-esteem, among other things.
- Diet: Reduce sugars, sugar-free products and starches. Eat lots of complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest and avoid sugar spikes.
- Exercise: A walk in nature always calms a person down.
These are things that help to set up a good environment so our body can start to repair itself. I have learned our body is very forgiving, and our brains are extremely complex. Given the right environment, they can rebuild and be better than before.
Jack there are a few tools that can help also. The first is to identify your stressors and let them go, realizing they are only harming you.
Breathing is also a good tool, and you can do this anywhere anytime. I would like to give you two different methods and see which one works for you. There are many different kinds of breathing that will give you different effects.
- Try the 6-6-6 rule, six breaths, inhale to the count of six and exhale to the count of six. For this purpose, I want you to breath in to the count of 6 with your tongue on the roof of your mouth then blow hard out your mouth for the count of 6 so you can feel the exhale in the pelvic area.
- Follow the 6-6-6 rule, in to the count of six, exhale to the count of six, six times. This time when you exhale, imagine you are pushing the air out through the bottom of your feet into the center of the Earth.
These two simple breathing techniques will do a variety of good things for you, in particular it will slow your speech down and the pitch you are speaking in, as well as helping to circulate blood through those 100,000 miles of blood vessels in your head.
Products: I like to stay as natural as possible. I feel like our brain is working hard to rebuild, it does not need the extra stress to filter through the various chemicals in products. I have found Bach Rescue Remedy helpful when I could not remember to breathe or other tools. I found this helpful to keep me calmed down and off the emotional roller coaster. It can be found in any health food store.
Hopefully these techniques help you.
The Brain Navigator
Colleen Butler, BA, CRC, founder of Brain Navigators, is an author, international speaker and lifestyle coach. She has first-hand experience recovering from ABI. With gratitude and understanding, her mission is to provide education, tools and hope to the brain-injured and those who care for them. Colleen offers the brain injury community workshops and her workbook: “Concussion Recovery: Rebuilding the Injured Brain.”