Managing Your Stress and Anxiety after a Brain Injury

Managing Your Stress and Anxiety after a Brain Injury

Marilyn Lash, M.S.W. and Taryn Stejskal, Ph.D.

When someone in your family has a traumatic brain injury, feelings of stress and anxiety can be overwhelming at times. Initial worries usually focus on whether the person will survive the injury. Once the person’s medical condition has stabilized, the family’s concern then shifts to what kind of recovery can be expected. The uncertainty about the future can be very stressful for everyone. The brain is such a complex organ that recovery is hard to predict after it has been injured. This uncertainty is the basis for many fears, worries, and questions.

Know Your Signs of Stress and Anxiety

Are you at the breaking point?

Are you at the breaking point?

Stress feels like an overwhelming pressure that a person just doesn’t feel capable of facing or handling. Anxiety is a more severe form of stress that causes apprehension, avoidance, and fear.

Everyone experiences some stress and anxiety in their life at some time. But it is very common among families when a person has had a brain injury as this can be a life changing event for everyone.

So what can you do?

It helps to know the common signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety.  They are:

  • Hard time making decisions, even small ones
  • Short temper or fuse
  • Less energy and motivation
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Changes in appetite
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Higher body temperature or increased heart rate
  • Physical complaints such as indigestion, shakiness, jaw and shoulder tension, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Impatience and irritability
  • Feeling of being alone, hopeless, and unproductive

Once you recognize the signs of stress, it’s important to manage it to prevent its negative impact on your life and health. Learning how to cope and manage stress and anxiety is a step in rebuilding your life after brain injury. Here are 6 techniques that can help.

  1. Think positive about your physical health and try to do fun and stress reducing activities that you did before the brain injury occurred.
  2. Deep breathing can help calm you when you begin to feel stressed or anxious.
  3. Meditation helps you calm your mind and focus on productive thoughts.
  4. Visualization helps you picture what you would like to happen.
  5. Thought stopping helps you control your thought patterns.
  6. Ending negative self talk helps you think more positively.

There will be many challenges in your life, whether you are a survivor of a brain injury, a caregiver, or a spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Learning how to decrease, manage and control your stress and anxiety is an important step in regaining and rebuilding your lives and your future.




3 responses to “Managing Your Stress and Anxiety after a Brain Injury”

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  2. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  3. caregiver says:

    This is really important for not only the one who has the brain injury but for all of the family who are caring for that person. Brain injury is truly a family affair. I am going to print this out and discuss it step by step over time with my spouse. Thank you. Ginger

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