“Accidents happen,” we’re often told – and, indeed, they do. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help us deal with the tragic aftermath of a car, train, or plane accident. We’re often left feeling traumatized, recovering from injuries, and finding it difficult to move on. Here are some tips to help you cope after an accident.
In 2014, the National Safety Council reported that “unintentional injuries” or accidents are the leading cause of death for people under the age of 43, and the fifth leading cause of death overall.
- In 2011, 126,438 people died of unintentional injuries in the U.S.
- In 2012, accidents caused over 38 million injuries and cost nearly $794 billion in medical bills.
However, these numbers are deceptively low because not everyone affected by an accident is injured. Millions more people will also struggle to emotionally cope after an accident.
Strategies for Coping After an Accident
Many people need help learning how to cope after an accident. According to the nonprofit mental health site HealthGuide.org:
“There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to think, feel, or respond to trauma, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.”
In that spirit, choose the techniques below that work for you and skip the ones that don’t.
Coping Strategy 1: Stay Connected
- Ask friends or loved ones to listen to you. Talking through what happened, even if your friend only listens, can help tremendously.
- Attend memorial services or visit hospitals where appropriate. It can help to share experiences with others who have been through the same ordeal.
- Find out more about your accident. If you’ve been involved in an accident that has gotten public or press coverage (like a train or plane crash), it may help to get the facts about what occurred before, during, and after the accident. Learning what happened will help you overcome it.
Coping Strategy 2: Add Positive Structure to Your Life
- Stick to your normal routines. Rituals like waking up and going to bed at the same time are helpful so that you don’t have to make a lot of extraneous decisions on top of dealing with the accident.
- Do things that make you feel better. Don’t feel guilty for having fun or indulging in a trip to the spa.
Coping Strategy 3: Take Care of Yourself
- Request alone time when you need it. Coping with everyday stress in addition to recovering from an accident can feel overwhelming, so take time to recharge your batteries.
- Exercise and eat right. You’d be surprised how much being good to your body can help you heal emotionally. Exercise in particular can help to release the tension of an ongoing emotional trauma after an accident.
- Be patient with yourself. Everyone heals according to their schedule. Allow yourself the time to heal without self-judgment.
Where to Get Help After an Accident
Sometimes healing may require a professional helping hand, especially if it’s difficult to cope with daily life after a serious accident.
- If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), take full advantage of it. EAPs often provide services anonymously or for free.
- Locate a mental health professional near you. Some therapists offer a sliding scale for those who are afraid they can’t afford to get help.
- Find group support meetings near you.
If you’ve incurred debt, medical bills, or other costs while you’ve been struggling to cope after an accident, it may be time to talk to our personal injury lawyers.