In this episode of Living Upp’s Conversations with Smart People, I talked with Jennifer Soames of Santosha Body Work about Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, a topic that seems to be popping up more and more in the media recently. As someone who has personal experience living with a TBI, Jennifer uses Structural Integration, yoga, nutrition, and spiritual practices in her studio to help her clients heal from pain and trauma.
March also happens to be National TBI Awareness Month. (I had no idea! But it reminded me of the time I accidentally showed up in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. What can I say? Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways,)
What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
So, what exactly is a traumatic brain injury? The Centers for Disease Control defines it as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”
As Jennifer explains, TBI symptoms can last a few weeks or for the entirety of a person’s life. Part of what makes this condition so elusive condition is that each person’s experience is vastly different. In her book Head of Hope, Jennifer outlines a roadmap for people healing from a TBI.
If you’re wondering what someone with TBI experiences, you can listen to our full interview here.
One of the biggest issues for those living with TBI is low energy levels. Not being able to get off the couch to complete even the simplest of tasks can be difficult to accept, especially for type A’s who are used to setting high expectations of themselves. Once you’re able to recognize and accept that low energy levels are the new norm, you can begin to re-prioritize what matters most, Jennifer explains.
Asking yourself, “What do I absolutely have to get done?” or “Where do I want to spend my energy today?” are simple questions to help you focus your energy on what matters most. As Jennifer puts it, “If it’s low on the priority list, it can wait.”
Creating better boundaries is another important focus area for those who live with a TBI. Learning when and how to say no protects your energy levels so you can give your best when it matters most. And if you want to continue being in service to others, you have to be able to say ‘no’ from time to time. Learning how to honor your body by setting boundaries is a must. After all, self-care is the art of giving yourself permission to give yourself what you need when you need it.
Support networks are important for all of us, but for Jennifer, having a support network has been essential for her healing process. Knowing she wasn’t alone offered comfort and a sense of community, which was a source of encouragement to her as she transitioned into a new lifestyle. Whether you choose to be part of an in-person support group or connect online, it’s clear that having a strong support network is a vital component of the lifestyle redesign process.
Surprisingly, finding information about TBI wasn’t easy as Jennifer had hoped, which is one of the reasons she published Head of Hope. But one resource she did find was the Brain Injury Association of America website, and anyone who is dealing with TBI personally should definitely check it out.
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