Getting into a car accident only takes an instant, but recovering happens over time.
Navigating the first hours after a vehicular accident is important, but after the dust settles, it may take weeks, months, or even years to recover. Just how long depends on your coping strategies.
Here are five tips to help you cope so you can move on after a car accident.
Get Back into Your Routine
Your routine probably got all out of whack immediately after your accident. You likely took time off work and you probably bounced back and forth between doctors appointments and meetings with your lawyer. But you should try to swing back into your regular routine the first chance you get.
Routines are important during the best of times, but they are especially important during stressful times. Having a routine can help you feel more organized and in control. Not to mention, it can help you maintain healthy habits, which are important if you’re struggling with your mental health.
Laying in bed and binge-watching Netflix has its place immediately after your accident, but only by getting back into your routine can you start to move on from a car crash.
Talk About What Happened
You probably already know that you should talk about what happened with a therapist. They can help you work through the details of your accident so you can move on, but they aren’t the only person you should talk to.
It’s important to share your mental health struggles with your friends and family too. Talk about your accident with your loved ones and share the struggles you’re facing as you’re recovering. Not only will it bring you closer, it can help you accept the details of your accident, and more importantly, accept this new version of yourself.
Find Ways to Forget About Your Accident For Awhile
It’s easy to ruminate over the details of your accident, replaying them over and over again in your mind. You may be dealing with an injury that reminds you of your accident, or you may be struggling with a loss of income due to your injuries.
It’s important to work through those issues, but it’s also important to find ways to forget about your accident for a while too.
Experiment with ways to get into a flow state where you’re totally absorbed in an activity. Whether it’s playing a video game, reading a book, or making something with your hands, finding an immersive activity has the power to remind you that you’re more than the accident you experienced.
Start Slow When You Get Back into a Car
You may find that you don’t want to get back into a car for a while after your accident, but when you finally do feel ready, you should take it slow.
A few tips for getting comfortable in a car again include:
- Bringing another person in the car with you when you first start driving again
- Start by taking short, pleasant drives with very little traffic
- Consider taking a defensive driving course to boost your confidence
- Driving a car that’s different from the one you were driving when you crashed
You should also make plans to revisit the crash site when you’re ready. It’s especially important if it’s in an area you frequent. The last thing you want to do is drive poorly because you’re anxious. Desensitize yourself to the crash site so that when you are behind the wheel, it doesn’t affect you.
Accept That You’ll Have Good Days and Bad Days
Recovering after a car accident can be frustrating because one day you may feel like you’re doing a great job, and the next you might feel like a failure because you’re having a bad day.
It’s important to accept the fact that progress isn’t linear. There are going to be some days when you hardly think about your accident at all and other days where you find it hard to cope. That will be the case weeks and months after the accident, but it may also be the case that a bad day crops up years after the crash because something triggers your memory.
If you can accept that you’ll have good and bad days, you’ll be more likely to move on from your accident in a healthy way.
Don’t let a car crash change your life for the worse. Although it does take some effort, you can recover from an accident and get back to living the life you want.