TBI Holiday Survival Tip: Make a danged list

Keeps me sane
Keeps me sane

If you want to make yourself crazy, this holiday season, try keeping everything in your head.

It will work like a charm.

But if you want to take the pressure off and actually enjoy yourself, making lists of things you need to do, can work wonders.

Making lists has the following advantages:

  1. It stops you from running around like a chicken with your head cut off. It tells you what you need to do next, every step of the way, so you can focus on the steps, instead of trying to remember what’s next. TBI can make it very difficult to focus, especially when tired. If you’re like me, you can end up bouncing around from one thing to the next, and finish the day with nothing much done. That’s anxiety-producing and bugs the crap out of me. A list keeps me on track.
  2. It saves your brain from needing to store everything in reserve. It’s stressful to hold everything in your head, and it’s even more stressful to wonder if you’re going to remember everything you need to. TBI can do a number on your short-term working memory, so if you’re like me, you can forget things in the space of minutes. Sometimes those things are important and shouldn’t be forgotten. We only have so  much “cognitive reserve” of thinking power, so using a list to store things instead of your brain can be a big help.
  3. It lets you think things through ahead of time and do a “practice run” of your steps before hand. Visualization and practicing motions in your head has been used by athletes and top performers for many, many years. And it works. When you make a list, you can “step through” everything you need to do, see yourself doing it well, and prepare mentally for what’s ahead of you. TBI can complicate even the simplest things, introducing distractions from your mind and your body, so when I run through my list of things to do in my head, ahead of time, it points me in the right direction early.
  4. It lets you weed out things you don’t really need to do. If you see your list getting really long, you can remove things that aren’t really all that essential, or move them to a different day. This saves your energy for the stuff that’s really critical. TBI can make your head think that everything is important, and compel you to DO IT ALL… or else. Putting things down on paper, lets you see just what matters, and what doesn’t.
  5. It can be very calming. It’s reassuring for me to have a list with me, when I’m going about my errands and chores. I know I’m not alone on my quest to get stuff done — I’ve got a tool to help me through. Just holding the piece of paper in my hands is a welcome sign that I’m doing something smart about my day.

Obviously, not everything can be listed out, and things will probably come up that you didn’t think of. But having a list of the things you  do know about can go a long way towards making your life — and your holidays — much more enjoyable.

So yes – enjoy!


Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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