Updated: Nov 20
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Is it normal to have anxiety after a concussion? Yes, you are not alone. As we all know, concussion and anxiety can go hand in hand with each other. Sometimes it’s just there out of nowhere and when I look back at the situation, I always ask myself why I worried that much during that moment.
When you’re feeling good, it almost feels like there is no anxiety in your life. But even the smallest thing can cause anxious thoughts. In this blog, I will show you which 4 questions I ask myself to reduce these anxious thoughts.
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Table of Contents:
- An appointment is coming closer - concussion and anxiety - 4 questions to reduce your anxiety - What are THE 4 questions? - Answering the questions - An example: anxiety after concussion - Most thoughts are wrong - Pushing myself - Don’t make it too big in your head.
An appointment is coming closer - concussion and anxiety
I think you can all relate to this. An appointment you made weeks ago is coming closer. You were so enthusiastic when you made that appointment, knowing you had plenty before it would actually happen. But now, a few days or even hours before the appointment is there, you’re feeling some anxiety.
I get thoughts like: What if I don’t feel good that day? What if I feel anxious? What if I am not able to handle the situation? How long will the appointment be? Who will be there? Will there be a lot of noise? How can I show my boundaries? And so on! I always try to remind myself that these are just thoughts. It sounds so easy but that isn’t the easiest thing right ;).
4 questions to reduce your anxiety
So what helps with anxiety after concussion? Let me be honest, I didn’t come up with these questions all by myself. I did read the book of Byron Katie - The Work. In this book she is explaining everything about these 4 questions and she gives lots of examples. I can really recommend this book; it changed a lot for me!
Let me explain how it works by using an example for us concussion people.
What are THE 4 questions?
I hear you thinking. But what are these 4 questions? The questions are: 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 3. How do you react? What happens when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without that thought?
I do know most of my thoughts aren’t true (a research even showed that 85 of the worrying thoughts at people, aren’t ever becoming reality)
I am aware that worrying about some situations only affects my current moment and thoughts. It does cost me energy and that’s why I ask myself these 4 questions whenever I am anxious.
I wrote each question on a post-it and taped it to my wall. Every time I am getting anxious, this is my go-to place and I focus on these questions. I notice I am more calm when I do “the work”.
What also worked for me was focusing on positive thoughts. You can read in my other blog how I do that: Concussion Syndrome and negative thoughts - How I let go of them in 6 steps
Answering the questions - An example: anxiety after concussion
So, let’s go back to the situation I described in the beginning of this blog. You are anxious about an upcoming appointment and you’re worried whether you’re able to go to that appointment because you’re maybe not feeling well that day. As we all know, on some days we can handle the whole world and on other days even the smallest task is too much.
So you’re asking yourself the anxious question: “What if I don’t feel good that day (let’s say Saturday)?”
I go upstairs to my post-its on the wall and will start answering the questions: 1. Is it true? Is it true that I don’t feel good that day? No, it isn’t, I can know this yet. 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No, I can’t know it’s true. It’s not Saturday yet and I don’t know how I will feel that day. 3. How do you react? What happens when you believe that thought? When I believe this thought I would get more anxious. I start telling myself scenarios about how I can cancel the appointment. How I can inform them, should I be honest? Should I come up with a lie? See, I am making a whole new story in my head that isn’t even true. I would create more tasks (cancel it, how to cancel it?) than when I wouldn’t have this thought. It makes me feel restless, stressed and sad that I think that I can’t handle it. 4. Who would you be without that thought? I would be happier, I won’t have scenarios in my head about how to cancel that day, I would enjoy the current moment more because I am not with my thoughts already at Saturday. I would feel more confident and happier. The future isn’t there yet and you don’t know how it will be. Worrying at this time about something that isn’t there and you don’t know yet is a waste of your time.
I love this quote because it’s so true:
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles, it takes away today's peace.”
Most thoughts are wrong - Pushing myself
It feels like that about 80% of the time my anxious thoughts were wrong and a waste of my energy. I realized that most of the time I was able to handle it and to enjoy it. I hate getting these anxious thoughts but I notice when I push myself and do more things that are out of my comfort zone I am getting more and more confidence.
Believe me, it took some time, (my accident is almost 5 years ago) and in the beginning, I couldn’t barely do anything. So, make sure you’re pushing yourself by taking little steps. You don’t have to climb the whole staircase. Just taking one small step is enough.
Don’t make it too big in your head.
I started by taking a small step like: - Having the thought: “I am not able to exercise” - I pushed myself doing gentle walks. First just 5 minutes and increased it over time until I was able to do a short run. - Having the thought: “I can’t go to the supermarket” - I pushed myself to go at the most quiet moments only once a week. I made a list at home, even thought about the route in the supermarket. Grabbed my noise-cancelling headphones and I was there at an early Saturday morning. Just me with some elderlies haha. But I DID IT.
Anxiety after concussion is a real thing and can affect your daily life. But I am sure whatever the activity is, you can try to make a small first step. Believe me, when you do this, you will feel more confident about what you can handle. But don’t forget, don’t take a step that’s too big. Step by step.
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