Holidays… it's a word that brings different memories and images to everyone!
Beaches and ice-creams, mountains and forests, music and friends, adventure and adrenaline, rest and relaxation, creativity and art, quiet days in the garden, travel, history, people... we all look for something different and have memories of holidays, some better than others.
When we have the choice, we all choose different activities and experiences for enjoyment because we are all unique individuals.
The kinds of holidays we choose are different for each of us and they change over time. They can be affected by our life stage, our health and energy levels or interests.
So what about holidays after a brain injury?
What do they look like?
Are they possible or worth the effort?
Will they be as good as our happy memories?
Holidays after brain injuries and head trauma are possible and can still be enjoyable!
Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to explore new places and activities, rest and enjoy a change of pace and environment and most of all make new happy memories.
There are a few key points that can make a difference though, and help to make your holiday as good as possible
8 tips to making your holiday as enjoyable as possible after a brain injury
Planning and preparation is really important to make any holiday a success. Have a good think about your plans and don't rush into an impulse buy.
Decide what your holiday priorities are. Think about past holidays and what meant the most to you. What are your current interests? It's probably worth noting that it may be best to include tried and tested interests on a holiday away from home unless you're up for a challenge!
Try and keep things simple. Plan around a key activity or event rather than trying to do too much.
Explore reviews of holiday destinations you'd like to visit. Euan's Guide is a fabulous online resource that reviews places of interest for disabled people, by disabled people. It includes destinations around the UK and even a places abroad. Maybe you could even add your own review after your visit and contribute to someone else's holiday enjoyment.
Make a 'to do' list. This will help with your planning and tick off things as you get them done. Don't forget about things to organise before you travel. Headway has a great fact sheet guide to help you think about all the details of a holiday.
Plan who you're going to spend your holiday with. Try to plan trips with family and friends who know you best and can help you with any unexpected challenges. Chances are they're the people most involved in your life who you'd want to share happy memories with.
Keep a record of your holiday to help you remember it afterwards. Try keeping a photo journal on your phone or with a holiday journal app. Collect souvenirs and make a scrap book when you get home. Collect some photo's to share with friends, in a digital photo frame or a photo album.
Most of all, try to pace yourself on holiday. Try to stay mindful and enjoy the moments of your holiday, savouring the different pace, the sights, smells and tastes. This will help you to relax and help to fix the memories in your mind to enjoy again once you get home.
And these ideas can also help with planning a holiday at home:
Spending time on your favourite hobby
Trying a new interest
A day trip to a favourite beauty spot or a new one
Visiting a friend you haven't seen for a while
Going somewhere to meet new friends.
Completing a leisure interest checklist like this may give you some ideas to get you started!
Whatever you do this holiday season, be kind to yourself and others and enjoy making memories!
Senior Occupational Therapist
Murdostoun Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Neurological Care Centre
Gillian Munday is a Senior Occupational Therapist at Murdostoun Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, run by Huntercombe Healthcare which is part of the Active Care Group.
Murdostoun is a specialist neuro rehabilitation centre which offers in-patient rehabilitation and complex discharge planning to people with acquired brain injury over the age of 16 years from across Scotland.