Tag Archives: positive

All In

Often, a brain injury survivor needs to make significant lifestyle changes following his or her injury.  This may include eating healthier, engaging in daily exercise or making a sustained commitment to sobriety.  These lifestyle changes can be incredibly challenging as they may involve making permanent alterations to long-standing habits.  However, the greatest challenge facing a survivor is often presented by members of his or her household who persist in old lifestyle practices contrary to the new patterns of behavior the survivor is trying to welcome into his or her life.  For instance, it is extremely difficult for most individuals to abstain from alcohol while other members of their household continue to drink in their presence.  Eventually, the survivor may be tempted back to prior unhealthy lifestyle habits or feel bitter that others do not have to make the same lifestyle changes that he or she has had to make.  This can also serve to bolster inevitable suspicions that if others do not need to make the changes in question, then such changes must not necessarily be all that important.  All of this negative thinking greatly increases chances of a dangerous lapse into the old, unhealthy lifestyle habits.

 
Research shows that individuals are more likely to adhere to lifestyle changes such as dietary alterations when they can rely upon the support of others while attempting those changes.  For instance, individuals are more likely to exercise regularly if they have an exercise “buddy” who works out with them.  Conversely, individuals trying to abstain from drug use are more likely to return to using drugs if they are surrounded by active substance abusers.  Ultimately, the best chance for brain injury survivors to succeed at lifestyle changes is if their families join them in healthier lifestyles.  If the family is “all in”, it is less likely that the survivor will “fall out” from his or her new lifestyle.  In truth, everyone can benefit from changes such as eating better, exercising regularly and maintaining sobriety.  So it is a good idea for everyone in the household to join in a new, healthy lifestyle!

 

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

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Focusing on the Positive – Part 2

Brain injury survivor Michael Segal often tells a funny story about his injury.  As a teenager, Michael Segal had been shot in the head.  Years later, he was married and had a daughter.  One day he took his young daughter to a local amusement park.  They waited on the hot, sweaty summer day in line for a ride and after 45 minutes they finally made it to the front of the line.  The ride attendant then noticed Michael’s walking difficulties.  The attendant told him that the amusement park has a policy that individuals with disabilities do not have to wait in lines and get to ride twice.  He didn’t think too much of it but his little daughter looked at him and told him how glad she was that he was shot!  According to Michael, she taught him a lesson that day.  Namely, a person should keep a positive attitude.

Although the injury experience is hard, there are often some positive aspects to the resultant circumstance.  It is well worth a patient’s time to identify these positives.  Making a written list is the best way to avoid positives being forgotten later.  Here are some examples of such positives given by Transitional Learning Center patients:

Learned that my family truly loved me

Found out that my friends will stick by my side through anything

Get to use handicapped parking stickers and have the best parking at the store

The injury gave me time to review my life goals

The hospital found other health problems that I was unaware of and now I can get those problems treated

Lots of people willing to open doors for me

Able to receive accommodations to better succeed in the classroom

Can now be a role model to others in recovery

Decided to become sober

Get to use the elevator instead of the escalator at the stadium and avoid all of the   lines

Here is a link to a promotional video in which Michael Segal talks about his injury, including the aforementioned story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNeRqpaoNpQ

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org 

Focusing on the Positive – Part 1

All people are inherently programmed to notice and immediately form lasting and indelible memories from having negative experiences more so than they will from having positive experiences.  For instance, if someone cuts you off in traffic, you are more likely to remember that event than if someone allowed you to merge into traffic.

Generally, our lives are filled with considerably more positive than negative events so our moods tend to be good.  However,  a brain injury invariably brings about a noticeable increase in the number of negative events in a survivor’s life.  These negative events can include such things as the loss of a job, physical pain or a decline in mobility.  As the ratio of positive to negative events shifts, many survivors see a decline in their emotional well-being.

One of the methods that can help improve mood is to deliberately focus on positive events.  A simple way of accomplishing this is by writing down at least five positive things that happened during the day.  This should be done on a daily basis.

Positive events do not have to be large accomplishments such as walking for the first time post-injury.  They can be (and usually are)  smaller events such as having a nice conversation with a spouse or working hard in speech therapy.  Moreover, if the same positive events happen each day, they can be written down each day.  You do not want to ignore positive events just because they happen regularly. The events should  be documented and kept in a format that can be easily accessed and reviewed.  A clear and concise diary-style list is suggested, and survivors with visual deficits may benefit from making a voice recording of events.  This activity should not be done only in one’s head.  When we leave the positive events in our head, it is all too easy to forget or discount them.  As such, it is preferable to have them available in a concrete visual or auditory format.

Here are some sample entries of daily positive events:
11/25

1.  Went out to eat for breakfast

2.  Enjoyed reading a book

3.  Transferred from my wheelchair without help

4.  Showered with only 25% assistance

5.  Had a nice conversation with my mother

11/26

1.  Was complimented by my physical therapist for giving great effort

2.  Was able to share my feelings with my counselor

3.  Conducted a cash transaction without assistance

4.  Told a joke that made everyone laugh

5.  My wife served my favorite dish for dinner

11/27

1.  Woke up without needing my alarm clock

2.  Followed my daily schedule without errors

3.  Received a card from a friend

4.  Found out that I gained 5% range of movement in my right arm

5.  Finished reading my book

By doing this activity every day, it is easier to notice and focus on positive events.  Consequently, many people who engage in this activity experience an improved mood and an expanded appreciation of daily life.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org