No matter our lifestyle, we are all at risk of incurring an injury that turns our world upside down. Whether you work in an environment fraught with hazards or in a space considered safe such as an office, most serious accidents happen in the workplace, sustained in a wide variety of ways from operating malfunctioning equipment to simply slipping down the stairs. Road traffic collisions are another major cause, as are sports and extreme sports – especially when played at an elite level. Most recently, rugby has made news headlines as a study of retired players revealed serious mental health issues thought to have been caused by repeated head trauma during their careers.
Types of life-changing injuries vary widely, from loss of hearing or sight to restricted mobility and damage to the brain. This physical harm, which is in itself hugely distressing, also has a negative effect on your mental state as you face new challenges in your capabilities while trying to develop new routines. This makes the initial period following a serious injury incredibly daunting and stressful, and it is easy to feel isolated and depressed. Particularly in the short term, it is vital for anyone suffering from the mental consequences of a serious injury to actively take steps to combat and control these overwhelming emotions.
Manage Your Expectations
Perhaps time does not heal all wounds, but it certainly plays a big part in helping us to process pain. Manage your expectations about how quickly you will be able to recover, both physically and mentally, and be careful not to push yourself too far too soon. While you will be desperate to return to some sort of normality, challenging yourself to get there before you are really ready will only slow down the process in the long-run. Take your recovery step by step and remember to celebrate each win, big or small.
Don’t Suppress Emotions
However you are feeling – and this might change minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, in the first few days and weeks following the accident – embrace your emotions and let them run their course. Coming to terms with your new situation is incredibly draining and burdening yourself with suppressed emotions will only make you feel more exhausted. Surround yourself with friends and family and open up about how you are feeling – emotional support from trusted loved ones is a powerful healing tool. If you are uncomfortable expressing yourself to those close to you, it may help to speak to a professional about your state of mind.
Work Towards Closure
Especially in the short-term following your accident, closure may feel like a distant dream – or even an impossibility. However, once you are in a position to do so in terms of your health and headspace, working towards attaining closure around the incident which caused your injury will help you to feel released from the past and allow you to refocus your attention on the future. If you were a victim of malpractice, you could seek the advice of serious injury lawyers who will strive to get you fair compensation. While you cannot change what happened, proving that your injury was not your fault can go a long way towards minimising feelings of regret and helping you to mentally move on from the past.
Set Achievable Goals
Many doctors, psychologists, and even philosophers discuss the power of pursuing goals in attaining happiness. This is only true if the goals are achievable, however. Setting yourself unrealistic targets and then failing to meet them will only make your recovery feel further out of reach than ever. Following the recommendations of specialist advisers such as rehabilitation professionals, set out a limited number of attainable goals, some for the short-term and others for completion weeks or months in the future. Each achievement will increase your confidence in your recovery and tracking your progress will give you a visual representation of just how far you have come since you were first injured.