Having a concussion is hard enough. During COVID-19, managing your symptoms and your recovery can only feel harder. That’s why I decided to write a blog post to help you navigate your way to recovery – especially now that the circumstances are what they are.
You have control over your concussion recovery
The situation you’re in right now, having a concussion in the midst of COVID-19, can and probably does feel like your life is derailing and you’re not in control of what happens next. I’m here to tell you, that you do have control – over your life, and over your concussion recovery. Let me help you to take a few small steps that are going to empower you and feel so much better in a matter of days, if not hours.
COVID-19 and concussion similarities
The corona virus and concussion cause some similar results in people’s lives. And there’s actually a few things that the corona crisis uniquely brings you. Strangely enough, you’re recovering in an environment that’s no fun at all – but it has some advantages specifically for concussion recovery.
In this post, I’m going to show you how you can use the new imposed reality of limited social interaction and transform it to your advantage in 2 important ways.
Having a concussion, we are prone to social isolation. This is because concussion symptoms like headaches, inability to concentrate and light sensitivity tempt or even force us to withdraw from our normal activities. Not only do these include our daily activities such as shopping for groceries and going to work, but also going to family gatherings and feeling part of our communities.
As a result, we have limited social interaction.
As you may recognize by now, these are activities that are limited due to COVID-19 as well. That is: people who don’t suffer from a concussion, have to deal with these social restrictions, too.
Social isolation lurks around the corner for everyone. The reasons are entirely different, but the result is the same. And this gives your recovery 2 advantages that you can use.
Advantage #1: Loved ones are open to talk
Social isolation is bad for every human on the planet. If you’d have a concussion during normal times, your life would stand still while your loved ones are going on with their lives.
Now, others too, experience the emptiness of a semi quarantained life (to a greater or lesser extent). This means that they are open to conversations about how their lives are going, how they are doing.
People have time time to stand still with you.
This means that you have the time to share with them about your situation, the things you encounter and how you feel.
The importance of social connection in your recovery
Never, ever underestimate the supporting and healing power of your community, sharing your story with people you trust and feeling connected in the process. At the time, I didn’t share with a lot of people what I was going through and how hard it was for me to feel myself slipping away.
This ended in a period of depression for me – and had I not forced myself to go everything without involving my community, I am absolutely positive that I wouldn’t have fallen as deep as I did.
Depression after concussion is a risk, not a given
The fact that I got depressed, doens’t mean that you will. It just means that depression is a risk if you experience long-term effects of a concussion, or post-concussion syndrome.
Being close with your community is like preventative medicine: it means that they can look out for you and that you can feel connected, especially when you’re experiencing all the hard things you’re going through right now.
You’re not alone in this.
Advantage #2: Time to focus on your recovery
During COVID-19, appointments are cancelled, we don’t have to travel to work every day, and family birthdays are postponed until better times. This means we might slip faster and deeper into post-concussion syndrome social isolation that we are at risk of because of lasting symptoms that limit us in our lives.
This is why advantage #1 is so important (to actively connect with your community, using the shared experience of limited social interaction as a conversation starter). And there’s a second advantage that you can leverage for your recovery: the extra time you now have.
Leveraging your time alone
Since typical energy leakages for concussion – like an exhausting commute to work and loud family gatherings – are temporarily falling away, you have time “left over”. And as you can uncover in the free worksheet that I made for you (see last paragraph), there are many things that you can focus on that will speed up your recovery.
These are helpful habits that you want to do every day, because they help your recovery.
These could be going for a walk every day, preparing a hearty meal full of protein, slow carbs and healthy fats, or practicing meditation. Whichever habits are good for you to practice every day: you now have more time to focus on them, and that’s helpful!
Less appointments that harm your recovery
In addition to more alone-time to focus on your helpful recovery habits, typically, harmful gatherings of large groups fall away during COVID-19. This means that, if you keep up a healthy amount of 1 on 1 appointments or (video) calls, the quality of your appointments go up.
Whereas in a normal situation, you’d have to explain to people why you wouldn’t come to their birthday (which is stressful by definition), the birthday now is non-existing. Loved ones are more open to meeting one-on-one, which ensures that you can still meet with people.
Moreover, you can tailor the appointment to your preferences, while you don’t have to recover for days because it’s been a large gathering that’s completely out of your control.
Summary: recovery during the corona crisis
I hope the 2 listed advantages help you see that within this situation that you don’t have control over, you still have power to use it to your recovery advantage. During my recovery, people were all busy going on with their own lives (as is their right!) and didn’t know what social isolation felt like.
Also, my old life went about expecting me (because of the invisibility of concussions) to keep up with so many things that we setting me back – until I learned to say no. Now, because of the strange circumstances we’re in, intense gatherings are often already canceled.
Also, people are really focused on conversations about social isolation, and how it makes us feel. It is my hope that these advantages – without downplaying any of the hard stuff and uncertainty that comes with the corona crisis – may help you leverage this period for your recovery.
Optimize your energy worksheet
If you want, you can use this free worksheet that I made to help you uncover what helps you and what sets you back in your concussion recovery. I help you to optimize your energy levels by using the things you discover, so that you have more energy left to leverage for your complete concussion recovery.