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It's All Connected
Even if you have prolonged symptoms (symptoms lasting for over a month), a full recovery of symptoms is likely.
There are interconnections between the physical symptoms (e.g. headaches, poor sleep, and pain), psychological factors (e.g. concentration and memory issues, stress, anxiety, and depression), and life demands (e.g. meeting the demands of work and of parenting).
Because everything is connected, a negative change in one area (e.g. poor sleep) can result in negative changes in other areas (e.g. increased anxiety, more physical symptoms, and reduced ability to meet life demands). On the other hand, a positive change in one area (e.g. better sleep) can create positive changes in others (e.g. less anxiety, fewer physical symptoms, and more energy to meet life demands).
Seeing how everything is connected helps us understand fluctuations in symptoms from day to day, and allows us to focus on those steps we can take in one area to improve how we feel overall.
Why is Becoming a Self-manager Important?
There are things you can do on an ongoing basis, to help your recovery progress. This is why it is important for you to become a self-manager and take an active role in your own recovery. Afterall, you are with yourself 24/7 and you may only be with your health care provider 1 hour per week (or you may not be working with a health care provider).
You are the best person to start the process of getting active, and you are also the expert on yourself.
What is Self-management?
Being a self-manger is about empowering yourself with the knowledge, skills, habits, and confidence to set yourself up for a good recovery.
With MyGuide: Concussion, we want to empower you to take action on the things that are most important to you, and can help you along your concussion recovery.
In this spirit, we will be encouraging you to take action throughout MyGuide: Concussion with this “Take Action” illustration.
My Role as a Self-manager
Put your knowledge into action
Develop new habits
Ask for help
First, you want to develop awareness of what variables affect your symptoms. For example, making a note that reading triggers your headaches.
Next, you want to learn what activities and habits promote your recovery. For example, understanding why it is helpful to take brain breaks when reading, and then knowing how to gradually increase your reading using the graded activity principles of frequency, duration, and intensity.
You also want to put your knowledge into action. For example, learning how to make your reading goal specific, and creating an Action Plan to reach it.
As a self-manager, you will be solving obstacles that prevent you from taking action. For example, forgetting to take a break may be an obstacle to gradually increasing your reading while also managing your headaches. To solve this obstacle, you could set a timer when reading.
For example, taking brain breaks, and reading in a paced way, will eventually get easier to do and will become a habit. Taking a healthy action only once or twice probably won’t make a difference to your recovery.
As a self-manager, you will stay accountable to using your strategies and habits to enhance your recovery. For example, using a Wellness Checklist to summarize your key Action Plans and to stay accountable to applying your self-management strategies.
You can download a copy of a sample Wellness Checklist [doc] for reference.
Asking for help when you need it is an important role for a self-manager. This includes working in partnership with your family doctor, and asking for support from friends and family.
Concussion Self-management Skills
In the articles under Becoming a Self-Manager, you will learn skills and strategies to become a self-manager.
Below is a summary of self-management skills that are common in concussion recovery. As you review the information, you are encouraged to pick a few areas that are most important to you. Then, focus your energy on those areas.
The topics include:
|Learning how to make an Action Plan
||Learning what is a “Wellness checklist”
|Challenging your thoughts||Stress management|