I feel fortunate that very early on in my journey I had the opportunity to work with an occupational therapist. I encourage you to do the same! It’s through the support of the amazing occupational therapists at the GF Strong Rehab Center that I first learned many of the tips and tricks that I share in the Concussion Care section of my website.
Occupational therapists were the first ones to encourage me to take up mindfulness. It’s funny, because at the time I wondered, gee, isn’t there some sort of treatment I could do instead? Maybe some kind of pill?! But they were very clear that one of the best ways to support concussion care is through things that I do for myself more than things that others do for me. It didn’t take me long to learn that these were very wise words of advice.
Of course, we do benefit from the support of a wide range of professionals who care for us, but it’s essential that we learn the core skill of self-regulation (ie the ability to monitor and manage the tumultuous emotions that come with a brain injury). Mindfulness is one of the best ways to learn and practice self-regulation.
Another core skill that I use on a daily basis that I learned from occupational therapy is pacing. Occupational therapists have an amazingly effective, step-by-step approach to teaching this skill. They helped me consider a typical day and really think through what I needed to do and what I could give up. They encouraged me to do the hard stuff at the beginning of the day, and to only take on what I could manage based on my symptoms. They also encouraged me to take micro breaks between tasks. I will admit that even all these years later I struggle with that one!
Now, pacing my day, and my hour, and my week has become muscle memory; I don’t think about it much as I just automatically set up my life with pacing in mind. Of course, lots of times I fall off the pacing wagon! I do too much and I pay the price. You get that right?!
Still, it’s so much better to try to live behind the edge of what we can manage rather than always over the edge. Even at the edge of our capacity is not ideal because then whenever anything difficult happens we’re so easily pushed over the edge… Pacing is a huge support in this regard.
I think occupational therapy is a worth-while investment. Even just a few sessions can really help. Here is a link to how you can find an occupational therapist in Canada.