Unfortunately, I’ve had instances in the last few years where I had to figure out how to pass the time after suffering a concussion. I just recently went through a rough 8 weeks of post-concussion syndrome, so I figured I’d write this article while everything was still fresh in my head.
If you’ve never suffered from a concussion, this may seem like an odd question to ask...
In the time after a concussion, the following activities can sometimes either worsen symptoms, slow recovery, or cause other issues:
- Screen time (including TV, computers, smartphones, tablets)
- Reading (even books)
- Vigorous physical activity
- Areas with many different types of stimuli (such as driving, going to Costco, going to a movie)
- Multi-tasking (such as cooking a meal while watching tv)
Note that some people may not have problems with all, or some, of these activities; and during the rehabilitation process some of these activities can be gradually ramped up according to the plan established with your healthcare provider(s).
What can I do to pass the time after a concussion?
These days, we are so dependent on our phones and other devices for entertainment that it feels wrong to not be able to use them. But, as I listed earlier, even simple things like using your phone or driving to Costco for a grocery run can be very problematic for some people recovering from a concussion.
For many people, the absolute boredom after a concussion is sometimes just as bad as the concussion symptoms.
For myself, it felt like I had the life of a house cat until I was able to find activities that passed the time. I remember spending the first day trying not to fall asleep, and that was pretty much the highlight of the day.
The following are all activities that you should generally be able to do to pass the time after a concussion (usually without worsening your symptoms, but exceptions may apply):
Listen to audiobooks and podcasts
This one was an absolute game-changer for me. Audiobooks and podcasts allow you to still be entertained without screen time. My personal favorite was audiobooks in the fiction/science fiction categories, since it was easy to get lost in the story.
I realized that I enjoyed them so much that I now listen to audiobooks even after my recovery! I also took advantage of podcasts to spend the time if I didn’t want to pay for a new audiobook after finishing one. Most people don’t realize, but local libraries also often have audiobooks available for download!
Check out my resources page for links to free audiobook trials that are available from certain companies (you get to keep the book, even if you cancel before paying anything).
Just because vigorous exercise isn’t recommended doesn’t mean you should just lay in bed all day either.
Once you are capable of doing so, mild activities such as going for walks or doing yoga can both improve your mental health (depression and anxiety are common post-concussion) and prevent you from getting too sedentary.
I know, this isn’t exactly exciting stuff; but, being limited in screen time can give you an opportunity to catch up on laundry, wash dishes, finally declutter the back of your closet, etc.
This has an added benefit of making you feel like you were somewhat productive and could help improve your mental health (as I’ve already stated, mental health issues are common after a concussion).
Phone a friend or family
As with the previous suggestion, this can be an opportunity to take the time to actually call your family members or friends that you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
If you’re by yourself at home all day, this can help make you feel less lonely and give you a boost.
Arts & crafts
No, I’m not kidding. Get an adult coloring book, try painting, try drawing, get a relatively easy puzzle, build with LEGOs… These can be oddly therapeutic when going through a time when you have a lot less of your usual entertainment from screens.
The Bottom Line
This post is much shorter than my usual posts, and isn’t exactly evidence-based…but I figured if it can help someone else going through post-concussion syndrome that it’d worth putting it out there.
As a bonus tip, don’t forget to ask your primary care provider if post-concussion physiotherapy is right for you. There are many different exercises that can speed up your recovery and improve the likelihood that you’ll have a better recovery as well.