Stress Management

For Families, Spouses, and Loved Ones, Self-Care is Critical

Living with your loved one after rehabilitation can be challenging for family, friends, and co-workers. Brain injury is one of the most devastating events affecting all who know the patient. Therefore, coping with such issues as behavior, communication, and physical capabilities, requires self-care for people in the patient’s sphere of support. Managing stress is essential for caregivers, spouses, and relatives.

Fortunately, there are a host of resources that can help. CNS staff in all locations can identify organizations in your area that will assist families in handling and mitigating stress. For example, local brain injury support groups are offered in nearly every state, region, and city. Participants share a common path of dealing with challenges, celebrating milestones, and supporting each other.

As your loved one re-establishes life at home, remember that change alone can be stressful. Give yourself enjoyable moments and fun activities that will balance the stress that can take its toll. In your weekly schedule, include family outings, cooking, and quality alone time to regroup. Utilize individuals whom you trust with the responsibility of caring for your family member, and go do something fun.

The goal of rehabilitation is to embrace independence by learning vital life skills. You can continue this skill building by helping your loved one complete certain tasks more independently. Provide instructions, pictures, or anything that encourages self-sufficiency in completing tasks. Prior to initiating a task, make sure he/she has the abilities to do so.

Understanding brain injury and its ramifications is another endeavor that eases the stress of a new family dynamic. Education will help you understand why the person behaves differently since the accident and what you can expect in the future.

Because brain injury impacts those closest to the patient, occasional frustration may cause family disunity. Talk openly and regularly among family members about feelings, concerns, stresses, and ways you can help each other deal with these issues. Make a list of activities the family enjoyed before the injury and engage in at least one of those pursuits each week.

As you keep track of the medical needs of the patient, make sure that your own health is attended to. Self-care includes visiting your physician for an annual physical and listening to your body. Get plenty of rest and talk to your doctor if you notice significant changes in your appetite, weight, and sleep habits, as these could be symptoms of depression or stress.

In addition, ensure that you exercise regularly. Try yoga, meditation, massage, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises to reduce stress. Eat a healthy diet, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and cereals to keep you fit. Avoid addictive stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, as they will exacerbate stress. And remember to engage in self-fulfilling pursuits and hobbies, focus on your spirituality, and make a choice to interact with positive people.