At the beginning of my recovery, I always thought that I only had to focus on my physical complaints. However, nothing turned out to be less true! Precisely by focusing on my mental health, I was also able to continue my concussion recovery. So this was one of the most crucial concussion recovery steps to move forward. In fact, it felt like this actually reduced my concussion healing time.
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There are, of course, a lot of things that have allowed me to progress in my concussion recovery, but here I want to mention the eight most important things:
In my early years, I made a concerted effort to maintain relationships with numerous people since I believed the concussion was only going to last a short time. Maybe next week or next month, I will be back to how I used to be and I will be able to carry on with my life as normal.
I therefore did not want to let go of anyone because everything seemed to be a passing circumstance. Why let go of individuals when I will soon revert to my old self? I can then resume my life at the previous point. I can then resume going to restaurants and gatherings.
But after trying to keep up with this for 2 years, I was done with it. I could not act like it was all temporary. I realized I do not want to put my life on pause and wait until I am better.
I realized this consumed so much energy, and I really needed this energy for my healing.
Every time I saw them, I felt so low in my energy afterward, and it was not helping me.
It was absolutely hard to let go, but I wanted to focus on my health and something needed to change. It took me a while, and something like this does not happen overnight. Hence, take your time in this process.
I did not let go of all of them, but most of them I did. In the beginning, many people asked how I was doing, but after a while, this stopped and only a few people seemed to care.
Some people only asked me to attend festivals, and I felt so misunderstood. It felt like they only liked the old me, but I was not that person anymore.
People could not deal with this or did not want to deal with this. In the beginning, I was sad, but now I am glad to know the real friends in my life.
Maybe in the beginning, it is hard, but when you make this decision, you realize how much energy this can save you. You can invest this energy into your concussion recovery. I bet it will even reduce your concussion healing time in general.
Read more about it in this blog: "Losing friends after a concussion".
2. Sports routine: one of the most vital concussion recovery steps
This was really hard. I always went to the gym 4-5 times a week and loved it. I did some weight lifting, cardio, body pump, and spinning.
After the accident, I tried to keep up with it. I went to the gym many times, but I got so many setbacks because I could not continue doing that. I pushed through my symptoms and it did more harm than good.
At one point, I was thinking, "What am I doing?"
I pushed myself every time, and it made me feel worse. I do not want to do this anymore. I need to find a way that supports my concussion recovery. I believe exercise is very helpful for concussion recovery, but pushing over your limits is not helping.
Instead of trying to get back to my old routine (4-5 times a week, weightlifting). I tried to think of what would support me. How do I feel during the exercise and afterward?
I began with gentle walks, then gentle cycling, and then interval training (which is the most beneficial for people who have had a concussion).
Want to make sure you do them the correct way? Check out my 7-day interval course and start from home.
What a difference! It helped me to reduce my fatigue and get more energy, and slowly I made progress.
3. Hobbies (adjusting and discovering new ones)
Traveling was one of my most popular pastimes. I ADORE going places. I frequently travel alone and adore the sense of independence it brings.
My lone journey to Southeast Asia remains one of my fondest memories. I had a great time traveling through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
I enjoy traveling and meeting new people, as well as learning about different cultures and cuisines. I also visited Qatar and Abu Dhabi while living in Dubai for six months. Along with Morocco, Utah, New York, and, of course, numerous European nations (as I live in the Netherlands).
I visited Germany, England, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, and Turkey. I also visited Belgium. I am eager to read this again because of it.
However, I was unable to go while I was still recovering from my concussion. I once attempted it, but the airport made me feel so overwhelmed. I was afraid I might never be able to travel again.
When I was able to travel after receiving a concussion, it was such a relief. But compared to before the catastrophe, the trip was very different. Before the accident, I spent a lot of time traveling, meeting new people, and taking in the sights.
Curious about my first long trip to Bali? Read this blog.
I have been in this location for at least a week because I need time to recoup from the travel and get used to the location. I also enjoy traveling to more isolated areas and spending much of my time alone.
I am just happy I found a different mode of transportation. There are instances when you do not have to let go of everything, but even slight alterations can assist.
Along with exploring the world in a novel way, I also picked up interests in photography, gardening, and art.
And if you're depressed, you cannot engage in a hobby. I find it helpful to remind myself that just because I cannot accomplish something right now doesn't mean I cannot do it later.
4. Work-definitely affected my concussion healing time.
This was a huge thing for me, and when I look back, it feels like forcing myself to go back to work too soon was one of the reasons my concussion healing time took longer.
I pushed myself in my first year many times to go back to work. I worked at a travel company in Amsterdam. I loved it; it was a lovely place with great colleagues. These colleagues became my friends. I even lived with them and saw them during the weekends and evenings.
F or that reason, my whole life was basically built around my work. It even became my identity because I loved it so much. I pushed myself many times to go back during the first year. But it was also a very busy office; I had to watch the screen for eight hours a day, which was impossible.
After a year of trying and having many setbacks, I realized this was not helping in my concussion recovery; I had to put my health first.
It broke me, believe me, but I knew deep down that it was the right thing to do. So I quit my job. This was one of the concussion recovery steps I just needed to take.
I fully focused on my concussion recovery for the next 2 years, and then I started this community. I already knew deep inside I just wanted to help others who are right in the middle of this rollercoaster.
There were 2 things I really missed in my journey: the correct knowledge from experts and support from others. So I added these two things inside this community, and there it was in April 2021 that I launched this community. It sounds easy, ha-ha, but it wasn’t.
I am overly grateful that this community became my work. I invariably dreamed of doing something myself and helping others, and now it has become reality. Managing this community makes it possible for me to plan my own days and not have to work 40 hours a week because I cannot do that and I do not strive for those hours either.
I believe we do not have to work 40 hours. Who came up with that idea? Ha-ha.
5. Fear of setbacks
This really changed a lot for me. I started living my life in a world full of rules. I made so many rules for myself because I was afraid of getting a setback.
For example, this is just a fraction of it:
I need to go to bed before 10 PM; otherwise, it will mess up my rhythm.
I need to jump out of bed immediately in the morning; this will give me more energy.
I need to open the curtains; daylight is good for me.
I need to get dressed immediately; otherwise, I will be slow the whole day.
I need to drink a full glass of water and take my supplements before I eat anything.
I need to eat one or two pieces of fruit afterwards.
I need to drink my green smoothie after I eat the fruit.
I need to exercise for at least 30 minutes or go for a walk.
I need to meditate after the exercise.
I need to do some cognitive tasks.
I need to eat my lunch around the same time because structure is good for me.
I need to do at least one useful thing after lunch (e.g., work, reading, groceries, etc.).
I need to eat enough vegetables with my dinner.
Read my other blog: "My concussion made me a robot. I lived in my own world full of rules".
I went to see a psychologist and realized this is not the way I wanted to live my life. Slowly, I started to let go of a few rules a week and got my freedom back.
I also realized I did not get setbacks by letting go of them, and I also rested for a week. So why stick to all these rules if I still get setbacks out of nowhere?
6. What do other people think of me?
This was something that was always there in my life. I had this fear of missing out, so I said yes to everything. I hoped that people would think of me as a nice person.
I started living my life not the way I wanted to, but the way other people wanted to see me. I discovered who I really was when I sustained a concussion. You just cannot keep up with this.
I did many things I did not even like that much. I was mostly running from appointment to appointment and never living in the moment.
This concussion made me learn to just be myself. People always have an opinion. If you do nice things, people have an opinion. If you are not nice, people will also have an opinion.
Putting that in mind, if you are yourself, the right people will cross your path and like you for the way you really are.
7. Active lifestyle
I was a very active person. I was never at home, and I was always running from one thing to another. I worked out four times a week, I saw friends almost every day, I worked 40 hours a week, on the weekend I went to festivals, and I was just always busy.
Right now, I live a slow life and love it. Of course, I miss the person who never gets tired, but I love this new person who is not rushing through life anymore, and who really spends their energy on things that matter.
I am reflecting more on life. I have dived more into personal development and spirituality, and I feel like I have connected more to myself. I do not crave this active lifestyle anymore.
8. Expectations of life
I remember when I was a child, I always thought I needed to get married when I was 25 and have children by 30, buy a house, and things like that.
I was able to let go of that and just live more with what life brings me instead of forcing it to be some way to be.
There is no one way to live a life. I do not see the perfect picture as a goal. Everything will come your way at the right time and things will cross your path when you are ready for it.
I do not mean only positive things but also learning moments (the harder things in life). If you do not feel the down moments, you will not appreciate the up moments as well.
Maybe my life was more steady before the accident, but my life right now has more ups. I can feel more gratitude and joy than ever before.
Letting go of all expectations gives so much peace.
I hope these 8 things gave you more inspiration or made you realize that these are one of the concussion recovery steps you need to take at this moment so you can move forward again.
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