10 ways to calm concussion symptoms and anxiety

October 12, 2021 ✨ Cattail Life

10 ways to calm concussion symptoms and anxiety

Do anniversaries cause you to reflect?

They sure cause me to.

There were quite a few opportunities for reflection in the couple weeks leading up to the three year anniversary of my accident.

Not all opportunities were necessarily wanted or enjoyed, but I’m grateful for the invitations they extended.

Invitations to

...grieve another layer.
...reflect on the healing that has transpired.
...begin to shed a little more of the weight and stigma and pressure of healing.
...ask what I really desire from this next season of life, and time.
...share what I’ve learned in this experience to help circumvent the learning time for others.

From some of that reflection time, I compiled a list of 10 things that help calm the nervous system.

Some of these were in my “everyday bag” that I made sure to never leave the house without as they were necessities to get through various environments and activities.

These tips and tools may be helpful if you’ve experienced a concussion, anxiety, or recognize that your nervous system is struggling.

Ear plugs

- calm your system by eliminating some of the stimulation and noise around you. I still use these when vacuuming.

Hat or visor

- overhead lights can be rather triggering for swirly-head and eye processing. Utilizing floor lamps and bouncing light off walls is your best bet. For times when lamps aren’t an option, having something you can wear to block out the light overhead can be a real saver.

Essential oils

- smells are very powerful resources to have in your arsenal. Not only do our minds lock in smells with memories, high quality oils have incredibly potent and healing properties to them. Find an oil that causes you feel calming, peaceful and grounded. Some of my go-tos are black spruce, vetiver, ylang ylang, frankincense, clary sage and sometimes spearmint.

Snacks

- I never realized what a big role snacks could play until my injury. One of the ways to calm your nervous system is to help ensure your blood sugar levels remain stabilized. Having a snack on hand for when you’re out and about can really help bring a sense of feeling grounded and calm when symptoms begin to swirl - especially if the swirling is stemming from a dip in blood sugar.

Note: balancing blood sugar does not equate to continually consuming processed sugars which will have a negative effect on your healing. Easy, nourishing snacks: stick of cheese, piece of fruit, leftover piece of chicken, some type of bar (check the ingredients!), hard boiled egg.

Sunglasses

- another great tool to always have on hand. Sunglasses help bring down the tone of light and brightness around you which is a way of telling your mind that it’s time to calm, relax, and slow down a bit.

Palming

- similar to the sunglasses, palming tells your system to essentially take a big deep breath and relax a bit. Palming takes it a step further by blocking out all light, and because it incorporates your hands, there’s an added mind/body connection.

Palming is cupping your hands and placing them over your eyes. Cupping your hands ensures you’re not adding pressure onto your eyeballs which along with being uncomfortable, can cause some to feel unsafe. Then with cupped hands blocking out all light from your eyes, take numerous, slow, deep breaths. Cup and breathe (palm) for as long as needed to help calm your system.

Breathwork

- especially box breathing and alternate nostril breathing. When your body is experiencing the fight, flight, freeze state your breathing is really shallow. By continuing to breathe shallowly, you’re reinforcing to your nervous system that it is best to stay in this fight, flight, freeze space. Breathwork is one of the most powerful resources to assure your mind and body that you are safe and okay. Bonus - it’s free and you can use it whenever you want!

Water, warm bath

- water is incredibly healing and therapeutic. I’m not talking about the hour or two hour long baths with candles lit, though those are lovely! You’d be amazed at what 20 minutes in the tub can do for you - epsom salts and essential oils, optional. I wasn’t really ever a bath person until my neurologist recommended them as a way to help calm symptoms. Now, I’m a huge fan of “20 minute water therapy.”

If you don’t have a tub, even just standing in the shower as the water runs over you can also be therapeutic water time.

Weighted blanket

- I know they became all the rage in the last year or two, but let me assure you, there's a reason for it! One thing to note is that it is recommended to get the proper size and weight of a blanket for your body to get the best experience.

Me: I just have a mini blanket that’s about 2x3 feet. It was given to me by my rehab team to help drape across my lap or shoulders while I was driving. I use it far more than just when driving, I always know where it is and use it often. It’s hands down one of the best things I received in my recovery journey.

Comfort

- sometimes changing the clothes you’re wearing can help ease your muscles and relax your system. Sometimes it’s the way a certain type of fabric feels against your skin, other times it can be the way the clothing feels restrictive or bunchy. (Ladies, even just removing your bra can cause your nervous system to feel like it can take a deep breath. 😉) Whatever it is for you, increasing the comfort by changing what’s touching your skin can make a big difference.

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