Updated: Nov 20
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Can a concussion make you feel hyper and restless?
In the first two years after sustaining my concussion, I often felt so hyper and restless. Over time, I learned this has something to do with (post-concussion) anxiety, one of the psychological effects of brain injury.
I find it difficult to describe this restless feeling, but when a member of the community shared more about it, I could totally relate to her words. She called it a hyper feeling, like your body urges for action. And another member mentioned it feels like you’re plugged into an electric socket. This is exactly how I felt, and I think that’s the best way to describe it.
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How does this “hyper” feeling feel? Post-concussion anxiety
Again, it’s so hard to describe how it feels, but these are a few ways to describe it (based on my own feelings and comments from members): - Plugged into an electric socket - It feels like your body urges for action - It feels like you are on a scale between 0 -100, and it’s always 100 - I feel spaced out, disconnected from the world around me, floating somewhere in between activities/tasks/appointments - It feels like I can’t relax and can’t stop worrying - I feel uncomfortable and unable to fix it - I can’t sleep because my head is way too active
When do I feel this “hyper” feeling?
I don’t feel like this all the time. In the beginning, I felt this feeling way more often, but right now, it’s mostly an average of once a week. Or, when I am lucky, less than that.
It happens when I get overstimulated from too much screentime, I drink too much coffee, I have too many social appointments or I am in a busy environment. Just when there are too many stimuli, and my brain can’t process them.
This “hyper” feeling isn’t only in my brain but also in my body. It’s a restless feeling, and it’s like this feeling can’t get out, so my body and mind are stuck in this circle of “action.” Because it’s feeling restless, it’s looking for more things, more action, which, of course, only makes it worse.
What do I do when my body urges for action?
When I get this “hyper” feeling, my body and mind are constantly looking for action. I notice I am checking my phone more often, I am doing more things in the house, start looking for tasks to do, make lists of more tasks, and when I sit down, I immediately start looking for the next task.
During those moments, it’s so hard to calm down and do “nothing.” Over time, I learned this is a red flag, and the only thing I need to do when this happens is to slow down. So right now, I force myself to slow down. This was something I didn’t do in my first two years. I just kept going and got a huge setback.
How to release this hyper feeling? – Post-concussion anxiety
So right now, I notice I need to calm down. There are a few things that help me to release this hyper feeling.
Gentle exercise: In my opinion, exercise is medicine. I use this when I feel anxious, when I feel fatigued, when I am down, but also when I have this restless feeling. It makes it possible to clear my mind and get some oxygen to the brain. I especially said gentle exercise because this helps me the best in this situation. This can be a gentle walk (in nature), some cycling, dancing, you name it!
Yoga/mediation: These two things work so well. Yoga works best for me because when I feel restless, it’s sometimes hard to meditate because it can make me frustrated a bit when I feel that restless. But when I do yoga, I focus on my body as well, and it feels like my mind-body connection gets restored, giving me a feeling of calm and control.
Deep breathing exercises: Your breath is such an amazing tool to control your body. By using deep breathing exercises, you can give your body a sign to relax. You can control the fight-flight mode. I use this video often to do some breathing exercises, and afterwards, I am always way more calm! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vkYJf8DOsc
Palming: Rub your hands until they are warm and cover your eyes with the palms of your hands to make it dark. The energy and warmth you generate from rubbing your hands and the dark you created make you feel more relaxed. It’s like a reset, and I immediately feel the restless feeling is reducing. I do this many times during the day.
Not always easy - My body and mind are in conflict
When I get this restless feeling, it’s not always easy to just calm down. For example: my mind says I can't exercise, you are fatigued/not feeling well, but my body needs it. I always feel better when I do gentle exercise, it doesn’t have to be a 1-hour workout. Only a simple 20-minute gentle walk mostly helps to reduce these restless psychological effects of my brain injury.
But we are all different, and it can also be the other way around. Sometimes, your body needs rest because your mind is on overdrive. Or exercise can be a trigger to turn on the fight-flight mode. When you notice that’s the case, my advice is to go for guided meditation and breathing exercises.
Don’t forget to always listen to your body. Your body is always right (thoughts can distract you from what you need), and you will notice what works best for you to reduce this restless feeling (post-concussion anxiety)
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