A serious injury can happen at any moment, and the impact on your life can be more than just physical. For example, motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, and most of us, at some point, get in or drive a car to go to work, school, or anywhere else for that matter, putting us at risk of getting into a car accident. While getting into a car accident can cause a physically damaging injury, it can also have a major psychological impact.
So, if you’re currently in this situation, practice patience with yourself and follow these eight tips for repairing your mental and emotional state:
1. Work with a mental health professional.
If you’ve suffered a major injury, there’s a good chance you have a medical team working with you. That team should also include a therapist or another mental health professional.
With serious injuries, your entire life changes in the short and sometimes the long-term—this can have a major emotional impact. You’ll need someone to help guide you.
2. Search for a support group that understands your situation.
In addition to a professional therapist, you’ll find comfort in others who are going through some of the same issues you are. There are support groups for various types of injury, such as groups for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury sufferers. If you can’t find a group to support your specific injury, you can find a more general support group.
3. Be open with your loved ones.
This is a challenging time for you, and you’ll need all the emotional support you can get. While there may be times when you keep quiet to spare someone else’s feelings, this isn’t the time. If someone is saying or doing something that feels counterproductive to you, tell them. At this time, your emotional health must take priority.
4. Find your new normal.
Part of healing is acceptance. For many serious injury survivors, this means finding a new normal. In some cases, this might involve a complete overhaul that includes significant changes in your career and home. This isn’t an easy transition—that’s where your team and support group will come in handy.
5. Work toward small personal goals.
Recovery takes time, but there’s often a rush to want to feel better. Remember that everyone goes at their own pace when in recovery and set small goals you think are obtainable for you. For example, one of your goals could be as simple as going for a ten-minute walk outside.
6. Practice mindful meditation.
Mindful meditation can help alleviate physical pain in addition to depression and anxiety, which are common after enduring a serious injury.
If meditation is new to you, don’t worry. It’s actually very easy to get started. All you need to start is about 5-10 minutes of quiet time daily. Sit in a quiet room and focus on a fixed point. Thoughts will enter your mind, and that’s okay. It’s part of the process. Your goal is to let those thoughts leave your mind as quickly and as effortlessly as they entered. As long as you don’t follow them, it doesn’t matter how many thoughts enter your mind during meditation. You’re strengthening your mind, and this will help with your mental and emotional state after enduring a serious injury.
7. Write about your feelings.
While it is often great to talk about your problems, there is also benefit in writing about your problems. Your thoughts can often wander, and you may find yourself worrying excessively or fearing the injury you suffered may happen again or get worse. When you write these thoughts and feelings down, they often don’t seem as scary as they were when you were thinking about it. Writing them down can also be an excellent way to find a solution to these problems. Keeping a journal close by is recommended.
8. Do things that make you happy.
When it comes down to it, you need to take time to do things you enjoy. It can be a struggle to find joy in the activities or things you used to like, but it’s important you find something that can make you happy. Finding a hobby is a good start, and you’ll find that some hobbies can be great stress relievers as well.
When everything changes in an instant, it’s easy to lose hope. But if you find yourself in this situation, you can repair your mental and emotional state: you should turn to the appropriate support system—which might include a mental health professional, friends, family, and others who know what you’re going through—as well as release your feelings, work toward obtainable goals, and do what makes you happy.
*Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who has been clean and sober for over five years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent with words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. He currently writes on behalf of Detox Local.