Positive Psychology Helps Brain Survivors by Charles Watson
Posted on January 14, 2020
The incidence of people suffering a stroke, road traffic accident, falls, and assaults are on the increase with each passing year. Even after physical recovery from a brain injury, the victim and family members face psychological adjustment to lifelong impairment.
Survivors not only have to deal with cognitive and communicative difficulties, but social and emotional factors present a great burden, leading to high rates of depression. Anxiety, depression, anger, and loss of social status can lead to loneliness and isolation, apart from slowing down the overall recovery process.
On the contrary, some people who experience a brain injury, come out with positive personal growth. Some survivors recover with an improved philosophy of life, better perception of themselves, and stronger personal relationships. Hence an improved quality of life and personal satisfaction.
Why is it that some brain injury survivors recover with a better frame of mind while others struggle with depression? The answer lies in looking at the positive things in life.
The realization of having survived a brain injury can greatly contribute to positive personal growth. Building internal strength after a brain injury can seem like a difficult task, but it is not impossible, research has found.
In recent years, researchers and psychiatrists are better able to understand what causes happiness and encourage wellbeing through the field of positive psychology.
Positive psychology and brain injury victims
The study of positive emotions, optimism, and understanding works on “building what’s strong” than “fixing what’s wrong.”
Research into “how positive psychology can help with brain injury” has been underway since 2011. Along with other rehab programs, it can help support brain injury patients adjust to life in a positive and hopeful way.
Recently, a trial project was launched to put this idea into practice. Researchers incorporated within a rehabilitation program, methods of positive psychology. Therapeutic exercises such as setting realistic goals, focusing on positive events proved very effective.
The most effective of positive psychology methods is listing down three good things. Writing down three things that have gone well every day for a week, with a little explanation has been shown to increase happiness and decrease depression.
For victims with ABI or TBI, with memory or attention impairment, looking back and remembering positive events may be difficult. This can make them feel negative about life and situations, thinking their life lacks positivity. But keeping three good things diary helps them focus on what is good in their lives at present to help build self-esteem.
Setting simple and realistic goals, working with a positive approach towards those goals, and being kind and patient towards yourself can be of great help in the recovery process.