A study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reveals that 39.2 percent of motor vehicle accident survivors develop PTSD. The support of close family and friends is crucial when survivors are coming to terms with a traumatic event. It can be a challenge to figure out exactly how to help someone you love and care for when they are going through distress.
Let’s look at some of the tips to get you started:
Create Time to Listen to Them
Start by finding out as much about their distress so that you know what to expect. Next, create an ideal bonding time and allow your loved one to freely talk about what happened, even if this upsets them. Ensure they understand you really want to hear about their experiences and feelings. However, if you notice they are hesitant or not ready to talk, don’t push. Just reassure them that you will be there when they are ready to open up.
Encourage Them to Engage in Exercise
Trauma can disrupt the body’s natural equilibrium and force the victims into a state of fear. Encouraging your loved one to participate in physical exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies can really help. Exercise and movement burn off negative energies and release endorphins which can help repair the nervous system. Where possible, exercise with your loved one for 30 minutes or more at least three times a week. Go for rhythmic exercises that engage both your arms and legs, such as swimming, basketball, dancing, running, walking. You can also encourage them to add an element of mindfulness.
Help Them to Take Care of Their Health
Having a healthy body can increase the body’s ability to cope with trauma and stress. Encourage your loved ones to take good care of their health. Specifically, ensure they do the following:
Get plenty of sleep: after a traumatic experience, stress, anxiety, and fear can significantly disrupt sleep patterns. Lack of quality sleep can worsen their trauma symptoms. Encourage your loved one to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Ensure they get at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night
Avoid alcohol and drugs: it may be tempting to look for temporary relief in drugs and alcohol. However, this will undoubtedly worsen their trauma symptoms and make it a challenge to maintain an emotional balance.
Eat a well-balanced diet: provide small, well-balanced meals throughout the day for your loved one. This will certainly help keep their energies up and reduce mood swings. Specifically, food rich in omega-3 fats such as salmons, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds can be powerful mood boosters. Avoid fried and sugary foods.
Be Patient and Understanding: Healing from trauma can take a lot of time. Ideally, each person responds to trauma differently, and you need to be patient with your loved one’s recovery pace. Importantly, avoid judging your loved one’s response against those of others.
Additionally, you should not take their symptoms personally. Expect your loved one can become angry, emotionally distant, irritable, or withdrawn at times. Remember, all their adverse reactions have nothing to do with you and your relationship.
What Not to Do/Say
- Don’t assume you know how the person thinks, feel or experience. Everyone’s response is different.
- Don’t be impatient or expect them to get over the trauma at a specific time
- Don’t judge their thoughts or feelings
- Don’t insist they need professional help. Allow them time to decide when they want it
When to Seek Help
If your loved one is experiencing persistent or severe trauma symptoms, encourage them to seek help from a health professional. It is crucial to seek help if the trauma symptoms interfere with their daily functioning and relationship with others.
Let Accident Agents Help You Overcome Your Trauma
Accidents can be traumatizing and impact the life of someone long after the threat of pain, danger, has passed. Accident Agents is a case management group that provides guidance to people in accidents in Tampa Bay. We are neither insurance providers, doctors, nor lawyers, but we help survivors of accidents get through the process from start to finish free of charge. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions!