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Four keys to a faster concussion recovery

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

You can think about the trauma of a concussion being a bit like if you were to get a plate of jelly and wobble it around. You tend to get a ‘shearing’ in the neurons in the brain which can result in some very unpleasant feelings – sometimes, these can last.

Our brain has an energy reserve which you’ve likely been unaware of until now. After trauma, it takes more energy and effort for our brains to do the same tasks until you go below this reserve and you crash. I think of it as a bit like a bucket of water – everything you do in a day that takes energy (appointments, meetings, chores etc.) goes into the bucket. When the bucket is full, it’s all over red rover and the bucket will empty out any way it can – this tends to be when the unfavourable symptoms arise. After a concussion, your bucket temporarily shrinks until it can return to being optimal. During this stage, be mindful of what you might be putting in while you try some strategies to empty/upgrade. Here are 4 things you can focus on to speed up your recovery:

1. You are what you eat

Biochemistry and gut-brain health are a real. If you want to feel like a cheeseburger, eat a cheeseburger. Your brain obviously needs nutrients to metabolise. Some easy things you can do today is cut the booze and sugar while you take on a plant based diet. Eat lots of colours of fruit and veg, drink lots of water and don’t forget the good fatty acids. Our brains are mostly fats so don’t be afraid to fill up on avocados and fish. If you want to go for a supplement, take Omega 3’s and B12’s.

2. Don’t forget about the body

It takes much more force to get a concussion than it does to get whiplash or a concurrent injury to the body. These things also tend to compound so if you haven’t addressed the other stuff going on with you it’s a good time to start. Although it may not have been relevant before your injury, your history also compounds what is going on right now. Mild exercise in a low stress environment is super healthy for the brain and body so go get moving – if you feel like you’re crashing afterwards it might be time to seek some help.

3. The mind will also play a part

Your body and mind one and the same. Brain fog, mental fatigue and emotional instability are all too common post-concussion and the tricky part here is that it’s a negative feedback loop. Your body’s under stress which then releases a cascade of hormones which can make you feel like you’re constantly being chased by a lion. Unfortunately, after concussion there can be a problem with the brains hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The problem with HPA axis problems is that the brains way to integrate stress changes and can result in an overdrive of the sympathetic nervous system, too much cortisol and glucose and a delayed healing response. To beat the loop you can learn to regulate yourself, teach yourself to flip your mind back to being chill- this is super important as you’ll have a hard time recovering if you’re using all your energy being chased by an imaginary lion. This might also be the time to address those monkey’s on your back, forgive yourself for the stuff that haunts you so you can feel like you again.

4. Connect with your self

Look, I’ve been through it and I’m well aware of the importance of looking after your mind and body but don’t forget your soul. I’m not asking anyone to go and join a cult but sometimes we tend to lose ourselves through the process of getting better. It’s when healing becomes an illness. Try not to forget who you are, what you love and why you love it. You’re unique and no one can really tell you how to do you better than you. Connect with the people that make you feel fuzzy and get back your sense of purpose. We can’t do it alone in an interconnected universe.

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