Car accidents not only cause damage to our vehicles but sometimes to our minds and hearts.
No matter who is at fault, a car accident is a traumatic event. Especially, if the car accident was severe enough for you or another person to need to go to the hospital. But, even minor accidents can leave mental and emotional scars which need to be dealt with appropriately.
You may specifically be wondering how to get over a car accident that was your fault. Blaming ourselves is a typical response to an accident or trauma. We want to understand what happened, how it happened, and why.
No matter who is at fault, all parties are likely to be feeling a wide range of emotions. Some people may feel guilty, fearful, or angry. Others may withdraw after a car accident and develop depression or other mental health problems.
But, health and support are available.
Read on to find out how to get over a car accident that was your fault.
How to Get Over a Car Accident that Was Your Fault
Traumatic events by definition are an occurrence that supersedes our normal coping abilities for a period of time.
Most people successfully recover mentally, physically, and emotionally after surviving a car accident, however. But, they likely didn’t do it all on their own, and you don’t have to either.
Others may have a difficult time recovering from the accident. These individuals may develop post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. PTSD was previously associated with soldiers returning from war, but is now understood to affect many others.
PTSD is a condition in which someone is affected long after the traumatic event occurred. It includes symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. You may also notice your behavior, feelings, and/or thoughts change.
If you are still suffering with distressing symptoms after 3 months after a car accident, then seek professional help. Talk with your doctor or a mental health professional so they can assist you in treating and diagnosing your condition.
Learn more about how to get over a car accident that wasn’t your fault by exploring the following tips.
1. Get Support
The first step in coping with a car accident is to get support. Talk to your friends, family members, and a mental health professional if possible. This will help to relieve any emotions you feel following the accident so you can process them appropriately.
Remember, you’re likely to feel a wide range of emotions after the accident. It’s also likely that you will think about the accident quite often. This should subside after a few months when you are able to fully process and come to terms with what happened.
If your symptoms don’t subside, then continue gaining support. You could also attempt to join a support group in your area so you can connect with others who have experienced trauma.
You may also need to gain support and find an accident lawyer to defend your case if needed.
Self-care is extremely important following a traumatic event. Set aside an adequate amount of time each day to focus on caring for yourself.
Start by writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. You could also try to meditate for 5 to 20 minutes per day. Try to eat healthy foods to feel the best you can.
It’s also important to remain physically active. Physical activity can help to reduce stress and it can also act as a distraction. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night is also essential to your recovery and mental health.
3. Be Gentle
Immediately after the accident, be gentle with yourself. If possible, take a couple of days off of work to relax and recover. Spend time with people you love and seek out support wherever possible.
It’s understandable that you want to put this event behind you, but it’s essential that you are gentle with yourself during the process. Practice self-compassion by giving yourself time to process the car accident. You can also practice self-compassion by giving yourself permission to be imperfect.
Speak kindly to yourself as often as you can and forgive yourself if you have a bad day.
4. Follow a Routine
Once you have taken some time to process the car accident, it’s essential that you follow a routine. Following a routine will provide you with a healthy distraction and boost your confidence levels. It will also make you feel a greater sense of safety and normalcy in your life.
Your routine could be composed of getting up for work, having dinner with your family, and then going on a run. Your routine can also include completing housework and taking some time to practice self-care.
5. Take a Defensive Driving Course
Many people find it challenging to get back on the road after a car accident. The idea of driving again may make them feel uncomfortable or anxious. This is a normal reaction that many people have.
To ease some of your fears, consider taking a defensive driving course. Learn more about safe driving habits and how to become a better driver. A course like this can give you a boost in confidence, which can help you to get back on the road.
6. Gradually Get Back on the Road
Gradually get back on the road by first asking someone to drive with you. Take short drives around the block or down the street to start. These drives should be easy and uncomplicated.
As you feel more comfortable, take longer drives by yourself. Be gentle, however, and don’t push yourself too far outside of your comfort zone. Be proud of and celebrate your driving victories as you move through this process.
You should also not avoid driving by the site of the accident. Doing so can actually feed your anxiety further. Plan to drive by the accident when you’re ready, but don’t plan to avoid it forever.
7. Remind Yourself that Accidents Happen
Lastly, it’s important to remember that accidents happen. Some may seem to be within our control, but ultimately they were an accident. Like any experience, we can learn something valuable from our car accident and try to become better people and drivers as a result.
How to Get Over a Car Accident that Was Your Fault: When to Seek Help
Knowing how to get over a car accident that was your fault can be challenging. At any time during your recovery, feel free to seek professional help. There is no shame in asking for help and doing so can help you to better process your feelings, emotions, and thoughts.
It is very important, however, to seek treatment if your symptoms continue after 3 months or more. This could be a sign of PTSD which requires a professional’s help and support.
Want to learn more about self-care? Check out our blog post to learn more.