When an accident happens unexpectedly, it can completely transform your life overnight. You may not be able to go to work or do your usual activities like walk the dog, go to the gym or even do your housework.
When your entire routine changes in an instant, it’s not surprising that your mental health can be affected as a result. Our research has found that almost three out of four people suffered from mental health issues as a direct result of their accident. Anxiety and stress were reported by over a third of people surveyed, and many also struggled to sleep.
If your mental health has suffered post-accident, we’re here to help. We’ve put together some simple ways to improve your mental health to help you get on the road to recovery.
1. Eat well
Many people question can what you eat affect your mental health? Well, nutrition can play a big role in both your physical and mental health. What you put inside your body can have a huge impact on how you feel, your concentration and your energy levels. In fact, research stated by the Mental Health Foundation found that participants eating a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, cereals, fruit, nuts, beans, protein and healthy fats experienced a reduction in depression.
This may be because many of these foods are rich in fibre and are made up of complex carbohydrates. Carbs are the main fuel for the body and brain and come in two different forms: simple and complex carbohydrates. ‘Simple’ are usually found in sugary foods like jam, fizzy drinks, sweets and many other processed foods. Eating these types of carbohydrates can make your blood sugar spike and drop quite dramatically, leading you to feel tired and irritable.
In contrast, ‘complex’ carbohydrates release energy much slower, helping to regulate your mood. Not only this, but they are jam-packed full of vitamins and minerals that further contribute to a healthy body and mind. These carbs are usually sourced in nutritiously dense foods like root vegetables, beans, sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and rice. Ensuring you’re eating these types of food consistently may help to boost your mood over time.
2. Get plenty of sleep
So, how does sleep affect your mental health? Well, sleep is just as important for your physical and mental wellbeing as breathing, drinking and eating. It gives your body and mind the essential time it needs to recover and heal, which is particularly important if you’ve suffered an accidental injury. If you do not get enough of the vital sleep you need, you may find yourself experiencing stress, anxiety and depression.
Our Make It Right campaign found that over a fifth of people surveyed struggled to sleep after their accident. If you are experiencing insomnia, there are several things you can do to help improve your sleep.
Firstly, establish a consistent bedtime routine – this is especially important if you are spending large amounts of time at home. Switch off any screens or electronic devices an hour before you go to bed to encourage your brain to relax. You should also avoid any caffeinated or alcoholic drinks as this will impact the quality of your sleep. Instead, switch to decaf, herbal teas or warm milky drinks. You can also try some simple breathing exercises or meditation to calm your thoughts and relax your body.
3. Talk about how you’re feeling
Perhaps most importantly, talk to someone about how you’re feeling. We’re all guilty of bottling up our emotions from time to time, but it’s vital to open up and seek support. Whether that’s a professional, a family member or a friend, it’s the first step towards boosting your mental health and kicking any feelings of loneliness to the kerb.
Talking things through will be a huge pressure release for you and gives people who are close to you the opportunity to support you in any way they can. Not only will their encouragement help to reduce your stress and lift your mood, they may also be able to help with things that you are struggling with, like household chores.
You don’t need to organise a time to sit down and talk – many people find it easier to open up if the topic is brought up naturally in conversation. Remember, you don’t have to share everything. Just talk through what you want to, at your own pace and on your own terms.
If your wellbeing has taken a dip after your accident, rest assured that there are many ways to improve your mental health. Simple things such as having a healthy diet, a consistent bedtime routine and talking to loved ones will help to lift your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
Looking for additional advice or support? We’re here to help. Contact us today on 0800 376 0150 to talk to one of our friendly advisors for free.