It’s hard adjusting to daylight saving time, and every March I wonder who came up with the idea. Losing one hour in the Spring only to gain it back in the Fall doesn’t make any sense to me.  I’m still working on getting all the clocks changed in my house, and my body is still trying to adjust to the lost hour. Life is full of adjustments. Do we really need to add our clocks to the list?

The theme for our caregivers support group went perfectly along with the changing of clocks and adapting to the loss of an hour. Reviewing what I learned Thursday night on the subject titled, Adjusting to Life After a Brain Injury, will be beneficial to you because it can relate to any other health issue, or difficult circumstance that dramatically changes the direction of life.


Our presenter, Kerrie Neu, has been a caregiver for nearly 20 years. In June 1998, her husband, Laurent, was in his last quarter at the University of Utah, majoring in Communications. He walked in the graduation ceremony since it is only offered in June. He would finish up his classes in the Fall. However, a motorcycle accident in Salt Lake City, on July 4th changed those plans. He was in a coma for several weeks and in the hospital for three months with ongoing outpatient therapy.

Slide27Kerrie brilliantly used a GPS theme for navigating in unfamiliar territory. They had to recalculate life and reroute to their best resource, family. With two small children ages four years and fourteen months old, they moved into Laurent’s parent’s home for three years. “It’s hard not to look back and want to make a U turn,” Kerrie said. “With brain injury, there’s no going back to the life you had before.”

Slide7At first, Kerrie said she lived in survival mode with her main focus on recovery. Some of the other short term adjustments we discussed were, home structure renovations like ramps and a modified bathroom, which may be necessary if the survivor needs a wheelchair. Other changes are family responsibilities, employment, and finances.

Some of the long term adjustments discussed were schedules for therapies and doctor appointments. Ongoing fatigue may make a schedule nap-time necessary. Employment is a big one. Is working a possibility? If so, will it need to be part time work, or possibly a new job? Financial concerns and changes in family roles can continue long term. Daily activities may be altered by physical and cognitive capabilities. Social skills may vary, especially on days the filters aren’t working proficiently.  Some friends and family may find it hard to relate to the new situation and distance themselves.


Click here to read:                                                             Holland Instead of Italy?

Kerrie pointed out that we can’t see into the future and we don’t know what our new destination will be. She suggested celebrating milestones, moments, and memories along the way. On our journey there will be times we need to recalculate. Be flexible and open to new ideas. Discover new routes and destinations. Find joy in every-day moments.

My favorite points Kerrie made were:

*Living in the past isn’t the way to enjoy the journey we’re on now. Look for things every day that bring you enjoyment. Make today worth remembering by:

  • Mindfulness in the morning, “Today I will celebrate one thing.”
  • Mental photos, or real ones, “I want to remember this moment.”
  • Nightly reflections, “What can I celebrate or remember from today?”

*Our bodies are the vehicle that gets us through life. A car needs gas and repairs. Likewise we need to navigate to doing whatever fills us up. When we break down, we should do what it takes to get the help for a repair. Don’t forget to stop at the rest areas when needed.

* Four tasks of grief by J. William Worden

  1. Accept the reality of the loss
  2. Process your grief and pain
  3. Adjust to the world with your loved one being different
  4. Find an enduring connection to the person while embarking on your own life-

A counselor can be helpful in this process since we experience ambiguous grief or ambiguous loss.

Slide23*The GPS doesn’t yell at you when you make a wrong turn “Idiot, why did you turn that way? If you had only turned left instead of right we wouldn’t be in this mess!” It simply says in a calm voice: “Recalculating,” and gives new directions.  We should talk to ourselves in that same patient way, with self-compassion.



*Self-compassion is:

  1. Self-kindness: Be understanding of yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate
  2. Connectedness: Recognize suffering and personal inadequacy is a shared human experience
  3. Mindfulness: Balanced approach to negative feelings: neither suppressed nor exaggerated

See: by Kristin Neff

I enjoyed this topic and Kerrie Neu did an excellent job presenting it. Our life is full of recalculating and adjustments. It occurred to me that maybe the purpose of daylight saving is to give us some adapting practice for much harder experiences that come our way. Because honestly, who has an extra hour to lose?

Click to view slide presentation in full: Navigating After a Brain Injury

Presentation Title


Five Ways to Increase Well-being

Mind Body SoulDr. Kimberly Sieber is a Clinical Psychologist Specialist in Salt Lake City, Utah and we were honored to have her speak to our caregivers group on August 17, 2017. Having more than twenty years of experience in clinical psychology, she is an expert in helping people gain a better understanding of their own minds and well-being.

When we pay attention to our mind, we realize it never sits still. It’s all over the place. We spend a lot of time thinking about the past and why this or that happened and wishing we’d done things differently. This can lead to depression.

We also spend a lot of time planning and worrying about the future. This often leads to anxiety or panic. I appreciated the methods Dr. Sieber shared with us for improved physical and emotional well-being. I’ve felt progress in my own life the past few weeks since I started practicing her five suggested ways, which are:

1. Mindfulness and Meditation

Techniques Dr. Sieber listed:

girl practicing meditation yoga while sitting on mat clipart

  • Notice your senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching)
  • Take a body scan of your physical sensations—tension, pain, etc
  • What are your thoughts and/or emotions
  • Adopt a non-judgmental attitude that the emotion isn’t good or bad, just “is”
  • Accept your current experience
  • Don’t rehash the past (depression), or rehearse the future (anxiety)

Two ways to practice this:

  • Formal – breathing, body scan, imagery
  • Informal – showering, brushing teeth, eating, walking, nature

As we practice meditation, we need to accept that our mind wanders and bring it back to the thought at hand. Each day will be different and some days will be easier than others, but over time our mind will wander less and the more we do it the easier it gets. Gaining the ability to spend more time in the present will tame and control our brains.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” When we pay attention to the present, we are in the moment.

There’s more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment.

Dr. Sieber’s list of benefits:

Mind Full

  • Helps release depression and anxiety
  • Reduces stress and pain
  • Improves our concentration
  • Boosts creativity
  • Gives us more energy
  • Reduces stress (cortisol)
  • Reduces rumination
  • Reduces emotional reactivity (changes in brain)
  • Improves concentration and memory
  • Improves relationships
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves overall physical health (heart disease, blood pressure, pain)

2) Exercise

 Dr. Sieber’s list of benefits:


  • Releases brain chemicals like neurotransmitters and endorphins
  • Strengthens immune system, reducing inflammation
  • Increases body temperature which can have a calming effect
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves self-confidence/self-esteem
  • Distraction from worries and problems

3) Nutrition

Necessary for good health and growth, Dr. Sieber shared these ideas:


  • Avoid processed foods
  • Fish, meat, eggs, beans, complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains)
  • Omega 3 fatty acids with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • Vitamins and minerals (B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, iron)
  • Probiotics – yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut


4) Healthy Thinking

How or what we think directly affects our emotions and behaviors. To improve our thoughts, Dr. Sieber listed and discussed a few ideas:

  • Identify the situation that elicited thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
  • Recognize automatic, negative patterns of thought
  • Evaluate the validity of negative thoughts
  • Explore other ways of interpreting situations
  • Avoid negative self-statements
  • Behavioral activation (just do it)

5) Gratitude

To show appreciation and return kindness to others also contributes to our well-being. Dr. Sieber’s list of benefits are:

Gratitude tree

  • Increases positive thoughts and emotions
  • Improves physical health (heart, blood pressure, immune system)
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves relationships
  • Increases self-esteem

Ways to expand our gratitude:

  • Gratitude journal
  • Write a thank you note or mentally thank someone
  • Meditate about what you are grateful for

No Giant Step

Thank you, Dr. Sieber, for this timely presentation on physical and emotional well-being. I enjoyed learning how to turn my thoughts and actions around by consciously seeking peace of mind.

Reference: Bullet points and images came from Dr. Kimberly Sieber’s slide presentation.