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Christmas after brain injury

Christmas after brain injury

We’ve put together a few tips to help make the Christmas season a bit easier following brain injury

Christmas can be a busy, chaotic and stressful time and the effects of a brain injury may turn festive fun into festive fear.

We’ve put together a few tips to help make the Christmas season a bit easier following a brain injury.

The run up to Christmas

  • Consider buying presents throughout the year and putting them away for Christmas to avoid a last minute panic.

  • Write a list of everyone you need to send a card to, or buy a present for.

  • Shop online to avoid the High Street rush.

  • Use the Headway Brain Injury Identity Card to ask for assistance in busy shops.

  • Decide among friends and family what the Christmas Day plans are well in advance, so you know if people are coming to you.

  • If you find it hard to manage money, set aside a Christmas budget and review it regularly so you don’t overspend.
Presents under a christmas tree
  • Don’t overdo the socialising: the weeks leading up to Christmas are often filled with parties and gatherings. If your brain injury effects make socialising difficult then take it easy. You might find some useful tips in Socialising after brain injury.

  • Make sure you have enough medication: pharmacies and doctors are likely to be shut over the Christmas period.
Christmas gift

On the day

  • Ask for help if you’re hosting Christmas Day: don’t struggle to prepare everything on your own.

  • Have a quiet zone: Create a Christmas-free area in the house where you can retreat to for some timeout if things become too much.

  • Avoid sensory overload: Flashing lights and Christmas songs might be hard to handle for someone with noise and/or light sensitivity issues.

  • Be careful about alcohol consumption: Following a brain injury the body might have an altered tolerance for alcohol. Read more here.

  • Try to keep to the same sleep routine to minimise fatigue.
  • Don’t be afraid to nap during the day if you need to.

  • Take lots of photos if you experience memory problems, to remind you of the day.

  • If swallowing problems might make a Christmas dinner difficult, read our factsheet on dysphagia for some advice.

  • Personality changes might make being around family hard, especially if you don’t see them often. Read our tips for coping with anger and impulsivity.

Your views

So how do people with a brain injury plan for a stress-free Christmas? We posed the question to our Facebook and HealthUnlocked communities and received some excellent tips:

Try not to do everything, accept help, ask for it if needed, try and space out the visits so not everyone all at once or, if not possible, take regular breaks, hour naps or lie down.

- Lisa-Marie Scott

Don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m going to have a rest now’ then join back in when you are ready.

- Sonia Piper-Notley

A general tip would be keep it all as simple and cheap as you can and, if you are hosting, ask family to bring a contribution to the dinner.

- Razyheath43

Christmas dinner
Circle the calendar or memo your phone to remind you to order meds to see you through until the new year. Present shop throughout the year. Clear at least a few days for wrapping, same again for delivery. As for food shopping, I start adding a Christmas item each week to the shopping for the freezer.

- Randomphantoms

The run up before can be overload time so once again plan shopping. I wrap and hide presents – but I have to remember to let someone else know where I’ve put them...yes I have found presents at Easter time.

- Pazo05

If you find yourself struggling with the stresses of Christmas you might find talking to someone helpful. Please note that the Headway helpline will be shut over the Christmas period (Wednesday 25 December to Thursday 2 January), however other sources of support will be available. The Samaritans will be open throughout Christmas and offer a listening ear. Find out how to contact them here.


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