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When you suffer a concussion, it's often challenging to continue doing all the things you used to. It's advisable not to immediately dive back into your normal life but to consider what you can handle, so you don't push your limits and recover faster. What not to do with a concussion? Learn from my experience in this blog!
I remember it like it was yesterday, the day of my scooter accident. This was in May 2017. I collided with another scooter, resulting in a whiplash. Because I didn't know at the time that a whiplash could also cause a concussion, I didn't focus on concussion symptoms in the first year, although I had them all.
Strangely, no one ever mentioned the word "concussion." Odd, right?
Because I didn't know I had a concussion, I returned to my normal life too quickly. After a week of rest, I forced myself back to work. I've always been hard on myself, and this time was no different.
Eventually, there came a moment when I couldn't cope, and I never returned to my office job.
During my recovery, I learned mainly what not to do—what worsens my concussion symptoms and what I should avoid.
Below, I list them, hoping that you learn from my mistakes. I prefer not to call them mistakes but rather learning moments. Sometimes you have to stub your toe to find out.
What not to do with a concussion?
1. Pushing Yourself Back to Work Prematurely:
What I regret the most and what I shouldn't have done is returning to work too quickly. Pushing myself when my body said no. I see this happening too often among other concussion survivors.
It's entirely logical because we all want to get back to work and reclaim our normal lives. No one enjoys sitting at home doing "nothing," especially when your body limits movement.
So what do we do? We tell ourselves not to complain, that it's better to go back because that's what the company doctor says. "Don't deviate from your routine for too long; the return will only be more challenging," etc., etc.
But deep down, you feel that going back is too much for you. Your mind says yes, but your body says no. Often, the mind leads, causing a quick return to work, followed by the body ultimately hindering progress.
By pushing, you've only gone further away from home and certainly not forward. This was my experience after pushing myself back to work for a year. And for what? Without health, you're nowhere.
2. Engaging in the wrong Sports:
Before the accident, I exercised a lot, 4-5 times a week in the gym, mainly strength training. I thought I could maintain this level after the accident because the doctor said exercise is good.
Well, I was wrong. When you've had a concussion, exercising is essential (after the initial 48 hours of rest) but in a form that doesn't strain your body.
I experienced many setbacks, and ultimately, it did more harm than good.
After 2 years, I finally discovered the best form of exercise for a concussion: interval training.
3. Excessive Screen Time:
As mentioned earlier, returning to work too soon meant 8 hours of screen time per day at my office job. Predictably, it was far from beneficial.
Additionally, we spend a lot of time on our phones (yes, you can check this on your phone itself, don't be alarmed). But what if we spent this time more productively? Engaging in activities like meditation, walking, or yoga can aid recovery.
If transitioning from high to minimal screen time feels overwhelming, do it gradually. For example, decrease screen time by 30 minutes or 1 hour every week.
4. Maintaining Relationships That Hinder Recovery:
We all know people who drain our energy. Have you ever thought about this? What if you only surrounded yourself with people who uplift you, give you energy, and genuinely care about your well-being?
During recovery, you may realize that some people you expected support from aren't there. I experienced this and eventually let those people go.
Interestingly, once you're ready to let go, new people enter your life who align better with your values and offer genuine friendship.
5. Ignoring Your Own Boundaries:
Firstly, it's sometimes challenging to learn your own boundaries. Once you know them, the next step is to safeguard and communicate them to others.
It's not always easy not to cross your limits. Your boundaries might vary each day, or family demands might complicate matters. Nonetheless, I advise communicating your boundaries as much as possible with your partner, family, or even asking for help from friends.
If you don't know your boundaries well, take the time to find out. How long can you spend on a screen without symptoms? Can you cook every day, or do you prefer some assistance? How about grocery shopping? Can someone else do it, or do you prefer online shopping?
What is your body telling you?
These were my most significant learning moments in my recovery about what not to do with a concussion. This can naturally vary for everyone, but hopefully, this helps you avoid the same mistakes.
In essence, there's one main rule you should listen to: What is my body telling me?
Listening to your body is crucial in recovery. You can do it!
If you've been stuck in a circle of frustration and don't know how to progress in your recovery, I'd love to see you in my free masterclass: