Shock – What is it?
In the immediate aftermath of an accident – or any traumatic event, you will probably feel cut off from your feelings, and slightly remote from events. You might feel stunned, or numb. This is the brain’s way of protecting itself whilst you process the huge flood of information that has hit you. In the hours or days following an accident you may well enter a ‘denial’ phase of emotions, where you act as if you don’t care about what has happened, and are being incredibly strong. Your mind cannot accept what has happened to it, so it switches off from processing it. When this phase ends you can be left with very different feelings and emotions. This is when you need to be particularly vigilant about your mental well-being.
You may suffer from a range of quite surprising emotional reactions in the days after an accident. You may feel very frightened, and relive the accident over and over again in your head. You may suffer from feelings of guilt if someone else was hurt in the accident. You may feel very angry, particularly if someone else caused the accident. You may feel deeply sad and inconsolable, especially if the accident involved injury of death to another person. You may feel an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, because you cannot turn the clock back and change events. You may even feel ashamed if you caused an accident, or if it was the result of a stupid action on your part.
Of course, what happens to the mind also affects the body. It is possible that your sleep will be interrupted and you will feel acutely tired as your body and mind tries to come to terms with what has occurred. This can include vivid nightmares in which the accident repeats over and over again. This is your brain trying to process the information that it has been given, to make sense of it so that you can function normally again. These nightmares can be extremely unpleasant. Accident victims also report that it is difficult for them to concentrate in the days and weeks during their recovery from events. Their memory suffers, and they have difficulty thinking clearly. Headaches and general aches and pains may begin to occur, and the sensation of the heart racing. A racing heart is a classic anxiety feeling, as your body remembers the ‘fight or flight’ feelings you had in the immediate aftermath of the accident. You may also suffer from loss of appetite or sex drive. These are perfectly normal reactions to acute stress, so if you are aware of them you may feel reassured that you are not losing your mind, and that the symptoms will usually recede.
How To Cope
First of all, try to relax and give yourself time to get better. Consider your mind as an organ that has been injured in just the same way a limb may have been. Grief may be part of this process, and that can take many months to get over. Don’t rush it. Be kind to yourself and ask for support and help from friends and family. Simply talking over what happened can help you get over it. Don’t worry if you begin to cry or shake – it is normal and it can be helpful in hastening your healing. Try to eat, even if you don’t feel like it. And try to do some everyday activities when you feel strong enough. They will help ground you back into reality. Although a trip to the shops may not be what you want to do, it will help your brain to realize that the threat is over, and it will gradually begin to ‘stand down’ from its state of high alert. Realize that you need time, time and more time to get back to your old self. Don’t bottle your feelings up and hide away. You need to rejoin the world, and take your rightful place in it again.
When To Get Help
If you find that things are not resolving themselves after six weeks, then approach your doctor or a life coach for advice on how to get your life back on track. Sometimes those who have suffered a serious accident will need much encouragement to return to normal. It may not require drug treatment from a doctor, but more of a ‘talking therapy’ approach. You need someone to you help piece your life back together, come to terms with what has happened, and devise a plan which allows you to move forward. Delaying asking for help can have a devastating impact on you and your ability to function at work and at home. Try not to resort to alcohol to help with your feelings. It can rapidly get out of control. Instead, work hard at building your confidence back up by rooting yourself in routine, eating well and trying to get some exercise. The endorphin release will give you a natural boost, and the determination used in exercising can help dispel any frustration you feel. Remember, most people recover from acute mental shock completely. Take hope from the fact that there is no reason at all to think you will be any different.
Contributed by: Evelyn Robinson
Keep a Positive Outlook
Unemployment can often be disregarded as something that can be easily fixed, and sometimes associated with laziness or lack of effort, which can make matters even worse. When you have spent weeks or months applying for jobs with no success, and then someone says you are not trying hard enough, it can be infuriating and leave you with a low sense of self-worth. It can be hard, but you need to ignore what most people with a job think about unemployment. Health professionals are all too aware that long-term unemployment can spiral uncontrollably into depression, ill health, and anxiety, and being aware of this will help you to combat this happening to you.
One of the hardest things to do is keeping positive when you know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people out there applying to the same job as you. Everybody reacts to bad things that happen in their lives in different ways, but it is all too easy to focus on the bad than the good. Too many negative thought can be dangerous, and you may begin sliding into depression quicker than you thought possible. Keep to your head up and remember that as soon as you feel like giving up, take a breather, and keep on trying.
You need to boost your mood when you find yourself with nothing to do, so be useful while you are unemployed. Help out family and friends with everyday chores, like walking the dog, picking up the groceries, painting a fence, or anything else. Self-esteem relies on feeling needed, useful, and having a successful performance record. When you perform well at work, your self-esteem receives a boost, so by being useful and doing things, no matter how trivial, will help to stop your self-esteem slipping. High self-esteem will stop your confidence levels dropping, and keep you motivated to find work, not regress into believing that there is no hope.
Budget for It
Being out of work brings with it the particularly stressful factor of having less money. Relying on a welfare check or your savings to get by each week will almost certainly mean you simply can’t afford all those things that you took for granted when you were bringing home a substantial salary every month. From the get go write up a budget for how you are going to deal with the drop in income. Do away with those luxuries and non-essentials, whether it’s coffee at Starbucks, magazine subscriptions, or anything else. At the beginning you may think you will only be out of work for a few weeks, but have foresight and budget for months ahead. Financial problems are just another stressful issue to deal with while unemployed, and distract you from your highest priority which is to get back to work again.
Newspapers, magazines, employment centres, advertisements in shops, not to even mention the internet, provide plenty of places to find that vacancy to fill. All you need to do is have refined resume to hand a potential employer and keep your fingers crossed. The internet provides more places than ever before for businesses to advertise a job, which means that it can be difficult to find what you are looking for sometimes, but on the flipside your next job could be just a click away. Narrow down and refine what you are looking for and what you are capable off, and only apply to jobs that really fit your skills. This will go a long way in making sure that employers do not skim through your resume and throw it in the reject bin within seconds. Target you resume and cover letter directly at each particular employers, because this will give you the best chance of getting an interview and re-entering the world of employment.
Contributed by: Evelyn Robinson