Car accidents can be stressful and traumatic for anyone involved, no matter the outcome. For this reason, it’s normal to experience a heightened state of anxiety after a traumatic event.
But while some level of anxiety can be expected, sometimes it can become debilitating enough to require treatment to fix. Luckily, there are many strategies to help. If you feel like you need assistance in managing anxiety after a car accident, follow these tips below.
Understand Your Anxiety
The first step in managing anxiety is to understand its causes and symptoms. According to Carew Garcia Bohuslav Law, “the trauma of an accident may impact the brain so this fight or flight response becomes easily triggered even when the accident is behind them.” While these triggers will vary from person to person, it’s typical for people involved in accidents to be affected by a fear of driving, fear of the financial or legal aftermath of an accident, or worry about any injuries they sustained. Symptoms of anxiety might include trouble sleeping, feeling on edge, and intrusive thoughts about the accident.
Once these feelings start interfering with your daily life, seeking help from a therapist is beneficial. A mental health professional can help people to identify where their anxiety is coming from and offer solutions to help prevent it or treat it as it occurs. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, teaches you to identify and change negative thoughts.
Learn Skills to Cope
Some of the most common techniques for self-soothing include meditation and deep breathing. You can learn more about deep breathing exercises here.
Outside of that, leaning into your creative side and doing activities such as painting and listening to music can also help you to feel calmer.
There are many ways to cope with anxiety. By experimenting and trying out several different methods, you can figure out what works best for you.
Find a Support Group
Finding a social support group is recommended for victims of car accidents, and these can be found either in person or online. Having people who can relate to and listen to your experience helps you to process the situation. Suffering by yourself can add to negative emotions.
Support groups offer a safe and non-judgmental space to open up about your feelings, as well as a community of like-minded individuals. In addition, they can offer you resources and point you where to go for extra help.
Build a Routine for Self Care
In addition to using coping mechanisms for anxiety as it comes up, there are several ways you can help prevent it from occurring. Sleeping well, exercising, and having a healthy diet have been shown to have a positive impact on your mental health. In addition, cutting out known anxiety-inducing substances like alcohol and caffeine can also help.
Having a healthy routine can create a sense of structure and predictability, in turn lessening your anxiety. But self-care routines are not one-size-fits-all. Trying out a lot of different activities and finding what works for you will lead to a higher chance of long-term success. Also, remember that progress takes time and patience. You may not get results overnight but it doesn’t mean you aren’t on a path of recovery.
Experiencing anxiety after a traumatic event like a car accident is a normal, expected response. But sometimes the symptoms can begin to interfere with our life. Fortunately, there are many techniques you can use to help abate it like meditation, doing a creative activity, and joining a support group, as well as making healthy lifestyle changes. If changes to your routine alone are not enough to help you manage your symptoms, then consult a mental health professional.