From Ken Collins: Adapt, Improvise, Overcome and Move On!

Namibia Desert
It can feel like you’re slogging through a desert, sometimes. But there’s an oasis in the distance… for sure.

Ken Collins shares his wisdom with us. Great stuff!

Some of the lessons I have learned after 39 years of living with a brain injury.

There are four major areas to work on during the brain injury recovery process:

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome and Move On!

Move on and try not to be critical of mistakes you make because in the early years of your recovery there will be too many to count.

Learn from these experiences and move on.

Keep stress and anxiety to a minimum everyday!

Stress and anxiety triggers the fight or flight response in the mid-brain. You don’t have any control of this response because it is part of the Emotional Nervous System.

When the fight or flight response is activated it will increase confusion and make it harder to process information.

Under stress – be proactive, stay focused, calm and relaxed as much as possible. This will make it easier to think, process information and be less dependent on others to remind you. Reducing stress and anxiety will make life easier and increase your self-esteem.

These free self-help tools are on the Youtube and have been very useful for me to control stress and anxiety:

Emotional Freedom Technique—EFT

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing -EMDR

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness-based stress reduction can be used to help you control stress and anxiety. Find purpose and meaning in your life again because this will make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. Having a sense of purpose and meaning will give you something to live for. This will also help you feel worthwhile and help motivate you and improve your recovery process. This will also relieve stress and anxiety because you will start feeling better about yourself.

Get a Day Planner and write down appointments and other important things you need to do. An iPad, iPhone, other smart phones or note pads will work very well because they have alarms to remind you. These tools will help you rebuild your life and stay oriented to time and place. These devices also have GPS and maps.

Don’t depend on others to remind you.

By becoming more responsible for yourself builds good habits on your part and will improve your self-esteem and self-confidence in the long run. This will also relieve stress and anxiety.

Get a Large Calendar and put it up on your wall and use it. Put it up at a location in your house or apartment where you will always see it every day. An iPad, iPhone, other smart phones, note pads with calendars and alarms do the same. This will also relieve stress and anxiety by helping you to stay on task and not forget.

Get a Key Holder and put it by your door to put your keys when you come home. Do this every night so you won’t have to look for your keys in the morning. Starting your day off on the right foot will make your day easier and help to relieve stress and anxiety.

Make a To Do List to help you stay organized. An iPad, iPhone, other smart phones or note pads will work wonders with this. These tools will help you stay organized, feel good about yourself and will help to relieve stress and anxiety.

Making a list before you go shopping will also save you money by cutting down on impulse buying. It will also help you become more responsible and less dependent on others. Being less dependent on others improves your self-esteem and relieves stress and anxiety.

Get lots of rest and slow down. Many times we try to do too many things at once and nothing gets done. Sleeping on an issue or concern can be the best way to help you figure it out. Getting enough rest will give you valuable energy to think better and problem solve difficult situations. This will also relieve stress and anxiety.

Set up a routine and stick to it. This will help to relieve stress and anxiety and make it easier for you to follow through with what you have planned for the day. This will also help with building familiarity. By doing the same thing every day you will start building trust in your capabilities again and this will increase hope.

With hope anything is possible.

Eat healthy foods and get lots of exercise. This will help you get the energy you need to get the blood/oxygen circulating to your brain. Get a dog and take it for walks. In my case – I have 9 dogs and they take me for walks every morning and night. They also give me the unconditional love and companionship I need to feel good about myself and be happy. This also relieves stress and anxiety.

Find ways to relax that aren’t counterproductive to your well being. Abusing alcohol and drugs to “relax” is counterproductive. Taking long walks, meditation, Yoga and Tai Chi are much better for you and will make processing and problem solving much easier. This will also relieve stress and anxiety.

Be patient and pay attention. Become an active listener. Hearing what people have to say is more important than listening to what they say. Watch their body language. Sometimes when I get distracted – it is harder to understand what a person is saying. Stay relaxed and focus. Take deep breaths because nothing works better than getting blood filled oxygen to your brain. This will also relieve stress and anxiety.

Be around positive people and people who care about you. Nothing is more depressing than listening to someone always complain about their life and what is going wrong in the world. Become active and don’t just set around hoping things get better. Quit talking about it and do something about it instead. Staying active reduces stress and anxiety.

Friends who judge others and criticize you aren’t friends. Don’t take criticism personally because constructive criticism can make you a better person in the long run. Remember that your family and friends want to help but sometimes they don’t know how. When people don’t understand things they criticize it. Many people don’t understand what you are going through so don’t hold them responsible for because of this.

Keep an open mind – stay calm – stay relaxed – take deep breaths – move on!

Be careful of who you hang out with because they will set the stage for how you act.

Grudges will only hold you back. They will be like an anchor and hold you back from being able to move on.

Lighten up on yourself, your family and friends who want to help you. Worry less and smile more. Be content with what you have because there are others how have it much worse than you. Find ways to stay active and less isolated.

Get out of your head and into the outside world.

Don’t give up – Embrace Adversity!

Get off the pity pot – be strong and move on.

Have adversity give you the resolve it will take to get better and improve your life. This will be up to you and no one else! People will be there to help you but all of the work will be up to you. Use it or lose it!

Take ownership of your recovery and get rid of the word “can’t” in your vocabulary.

Life is hard for most people. Life after a brain injury will be hard but not impossible.

Life after a brain injury will get easier over time – be patient! Make the best of everyday and move on.

Thinking too much about a problem or issue can be depressing. This will trigger the fight or flight response and you will be like a dog chasing its tail because of the increased stress and anxiety.

Be good to yourself and don’t take life so seriously. Don’t let the little things get you down because when you think about them long enough they will become bigger than they really are!

Don’t beat yourself up over things you can’t control because this will only increase your stress and anxiety and trigger the fight or flight response!

Be happy with yourself and don’t try to live up to others expectations. Most importantly – don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.

Take one step at a time – don’t run before you can walk.

Enjoy what life has to offer and take pride in your accomplishments!

Every accomplishment is a victory – no matter how small.

Every day is a new day and learn from yesterdays mistakes.

Be good to yourself because you are the only thing that is important!

Live life freely and don’t put up obstacles for you to overcome.

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome and Move On!

Everything is up to you and no one else.


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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