Our bodies are incredibly designed. When we’re in a dangerous situation, our brain kicks in and sends a “fight-or-flight” message to our amygdala. It prepares us to handle stressful events, like a car accident.
But when you experience the actual event, the last thing you need is to be hysterical. Because of the way our brains work, it’s a common, natural part of the process. It’s up to you to tell your amygdala it can relax; you’ve got it under control.
Calming down after a major event like a car accident isn’t always easy, though. With these tips in mind, you can take command of your body and the scene of the collision. You’re much more valuable in the moment when you’re present and in control!
1. Assess the Damage
Before you do anything else, take inventory and check yourself and your passengers for injuries. No matter how serious they might seem, getting upset isn’t going to help. You need someone to have a cool head, so it may as well be you.
If there’s anyone in a critical, life-threatening situation, do what you can to safely help. Call law enforcement and the local emergency number to get help on the way ASAP.
2. Go Through the Motions
Sometimes, the best way to get calm after an emotional event is to distract yourself. There are some small but important steps that need to be done at the scene of an accident. By doing them, you don’t need to think about the collision.
Going through the motion with these easy activities can keep your mind off of the stress:
- After everyone’s injuries have been taken care of and the area is safe, grab your phone and take pictures of any damage.
- Use a note app or paper and pencil to write down the personal information of everyone involved.
- Collect everyone’s auto insurance information.
- Get the name, number, and address of any witnesses to the accident.
Tell your side of the event to law enforcement while it’s still fresh in your mind. The people you talk to are trained in reducing emotion in a stressful situation. As you see them take over control, your own stress will reduce naturally.
For a more detailed list of what you should do after an accident, read this article by JT Legal Group.
3. Write it Down
After an emotional situation like a car accident, it’s normal for your mind to be on overload. You’re trying to process what happened, deal with the current situation, and think about what will need to be done in the future.
The more stimuli you receive and bottle up, the more difficult it is to handle rationally. Eventually, all this bottled-up tension is going to erupt.
Instead of keeping everything to yourself, when you get a few minutes alone, write down what happened. Let it all out.
This serves two benefits.
First, it gives you a chance to release the emotions you’ve been trying to keep under control.
Second, it frees you up to stop thinking about the accident and everything you want to remember. A lot of our anxiety is that we’ll forget an important detail. By writing everything down, you can let go of that worry and turn your focus to your recovery.
4. Take it One Step at a Time
Now that you’ve experienced a car accident, you have hoops you have to jump through. Even if it wasn’t your fault, there is red tape and legalities to handle.
The entire process is likely going to seem overwhelming if you look at everything you have to do at once. But by taking it one thing at a time, each part is doable.
You aren’t going to be ready to deal with everything at once. By the time you get through the step you’re on, you will be ready to tackle what’s next. Pay attention to the next step to the next step, not the final destination.
Get Help if It’s Too Much
Along the way, if your anxiety and stress become too much to handle, consider therapy. There are licensed mental health counselors trained in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is common after a car accident experience. Don’t wait until your stress gets out of control. Seek help early, and you’ll learn more strategies to help you stay calm and keep your fight-or-flight brain from being on high alert forever.
Feeling stressed after a car accident experience is a typical human emotion. However, right after the accident is the most important time for you to remain calm and not run away from the accident scene.
These strategies will help you focus on the present moment and get your feelings under control. Once you master them, you can use the same techniques in any emotional situation.
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