It happens out of the blue. You’re driving along, listening to the radio, thinking about what you might have for dinner that night. Then all of a sudden, an impact changes your life in a split second. Car accidents are, by their very nature, things that take us by surprise. There is no way to prepare for the incident and its effects on your life. You may be lucky enough to escape with only minor injuries, or you may have suffered something life-changing that requires a good firm of professional personal injury lawyers. Either way, the psychological impact of getting into an auto accident can be severe.
Your Emotional State
Immediately following the impact, you are likely to be carried on a tide of adrenaline. You may feel deep shock, which can manifest as denial, a peculiar numbness of spirit or even a strange form of excitement and elation. But it’s also normal to have to process some more difficult emotions in the aftermath, even for months after the incident has taken place. Remember that whatever you feel is completely normal – there is no right or wrong way you are ‘supposed’ to feel after a life-threatening incident, even if you were lucky enough to emerge relatively unharmed.
Often, people who have been in car crash incidents can feel intense guilt, even if it wasn’t their fault, or they may feel powerless and shaken up. Learning how to process and deal with negative emotions is a journey that you will have to accept takes time. Initially, you may be preoccupied with the practical implications – informing your insurance company, arranging any repairs needed to your vehicle, getting interim transport arrangements sorted out or focusing on healing from physical injuries.
In the flurry of activity, it’s important to allow time and space to deal with your mental wellbeing as well as any physical impact. Find a good support organization if necessary to help you work through the trauma – your doctor should be able to recommend support groups in your local area, or there are many that run online.
The Importance of Routine
When a major incident happens, we can feel like our lives have become derailed. So it’s vital to get back to normal routines as soon as you can. These may seem trivial, but actually, their very mundanity and everyday nature becomes a part of the healing process in the aftermath of a car crash. If you’ve been left feeling anxious, sticking to quiet daily routines can be deeply restorative. Make sure that you take care of the basics – a good night’s sleep, eating balanced meals, making sure you stay hydrated and taking what exercise you can. Anxiety can be made a lot worse by poor diet and sleep, so you need to stay on top of the smaller aspects to support your recovery. Avoid turning to any false coping mechanisms like alcohol – it could make your recovery harder in the long run. Try to find a trusted friend or family member that you don’t mind admitting to if you aren’t coping well. Go back to your favorite hobbies and things that you find relaxing and prioritize them.
The Symptoms to Expect
The variety of effects you may experience are so varied that you might not associate them at first with the accident itself. But it’s quite common to find yourself falling prey to insomnia, nightmares, or fatigue and low energy. Headaches and digestive problems can also be linked to the stress that follows a major incident. You may find yourself become hypervigilant and struggling to mentally switch off. Similarly, muscle tension and aches and pains can be as firmly linked to our psychological state as they are to any physical injury – if you are experiencing any of this, approach a health professional to work with.
Healing Yourself After Trauma
Therapies such as acupuncture or reflexology can be highly complementary to deal with physical symptoms that are manifestations of your mental distress. They can usually be used alongside any traditional medicines you may have been prescribed – speak to your doctor about trying some of these in combination with your prescription. Try to take it easy on yourself by keeping a balanced schedule, with plenty of quiet time factored in – it’s quite reasonable not to want to be the life and soul of the party when you’ve been through something like this. You could also try mindfulness techniques to support your recovery mentally. And make sure that you take the time to connect with any other friend or relative who was involved in the crash – talk to each other and show love rather than any blame about who was involved. It’s a time for healing and appreciating life.