There are many things about the holidays that you enjoy, from seeing family members to taking the annual shopping trip. With a brain injury, much of that can change. The flashing lights on Christmas trees and glare from ornaments can give you headaches or migraines. In some cases, they could even trigger seizures. Crowded stores become overwhelming instead of exciting, and the excitement of Christmas morning becomes too much when squeals and screams of delight bring on symptoms.
How can you manage the holidays when you're suffering from a traumatic brain injury? Here are a few tips.
Dress for the lights
It's fortunate that there are alternatives to walking around and being forced to see bright dazzling lights. Wearing sunglasses inside can cut down on the brightness and reduce headaches, or choosing to wear a hat can cut down on how much you see in your field of vision. Even lightly tinted glasses can help reduce glare, which reduces your risk of being overwhelmed this season.
Power through the noise with the right gear
There is nothing wrong with staying away from loud noises, but they could be unavoidable during the holidays. Reduce their impact on you by wearing headphones or ear buds; you can even put on some soothing music to reduce the number of sounds your brain has to handle at once time. If you think that a party or event might be too much for you to handle, it's okay to opt out or spend less time there than you'd like. Your family and friends should understand.
Plan, plan, plan
Much of the anxiety and stress of the holidays comes from not knowing what's happening next. Take charge of your holiday plans by asking others what they are planning to do when you're around. If something could trigger symptoms, like flashing Christmas tree lights, ask if they can be changed to a non-flashing pattern or turned off during your visit. Those who are close to you should understand that this will make your holidays more enjoyable and be willing to make some concessions for your health.
These are just a couple of ways to manage your holiday events. After your traumatic brain injury, you should be seeking ongoing treatment to manage these symptoms.