Hello Briar, thank you for reaching out, I know it is not easy to ask for help sometimes.
Based on the information that you have provided in the question, it seems like you may benefit from emotional management during this time of recovery. I did have an experience similar to yours when I suffered one of my accidents, which is why I can relate to being affected by a sudden change in life routine. The first thing that helped me at that time was understanding what emotional management was. I figured that if I focused on my mental state, then the emotional healing would eventually turn into physical healing, and that is exactly how it happened. When I dove into emotional management I had to accept that we all suffer from emotional instability at times. In the heat of the moment, we say something to a person we love without stopping to consider the shockwaves. Or we blast off an email and wonder why we didn’t sleep on it before pressing Send. Our emotions spill over and, by the time they recede, the damage is done. The converse situation is that we feel gripped by fear or anxiety and fail to seize the moment to speak up or act according to our values. The consequences of freezing can be just as deleterious as those of overreacting, and sometimes more so. Either way, managing our emotions is a tricky business.
When we look back on these situations our stock explanation is, "My emotions got the better of me." But this raises a serious question: Am I in charge of my emotions, or are they in charge of me? Nobody asked me this question at school or told me the answer. Consequently, I stumbled into the adult world with a royal flush of emotions, ranging from joy and excitement to fear and anger, without a manual for how to live with them.
The truth is that we’ve ended up with a tangled mess of advice in this area. Much of the prevailing literature tells us to squash negative emotions and replace them with positive ones. Other experts tell us this is tantamount to putting the icing on dog food and calling it cake. So who, if anyone, is right? To navigate through this emotional battleground, we need to make some important distinctions:
We cannot turn emotions on and off like a tap. They will come and go whether we like it or not. Once this is clear in your mind, you can stop waiting for unwanted emotions to go away. The idea that we can banish them is unhelpful and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny; they are part and parcel of the human experience. Besides, the more we strive to live according to our values and commitments, the more our emotions will rise to challenge us.
Emotions aren’t positive or negative. The human brain is wired to categorize things as positive or negative and is particularly alert to threats. This made good evolutionary sense for our ancestors, who learned to react to external threats for survival. As humans developed language, we employed the same process of classification of our internal state, including our emotions. Thus we see joy as positive, and therefore welcome, and fear as negative and unwelcome.
However, this creates new problems. On the basis that ‘what we resist persists’, suppressing emotions that we perceive to be negative only tightens their grip. So what’s the alternative? If we can experience the full range of human emotions without attaching positive and negative labels to them, the result can be hugely liberating.
You are not your emotions. Emotions are, by their very nature, strong. However, it’s important to get clear that you are not your emotions. You are a person with values and commitments who happens to have emotions that are triggered on a regular and ongoing basis. This point might seem semantic, but it isn’t. When we become fused to our emotions, thinking that ‘they’ and ‘we’ are the same thing, we are effectively hijacked by them. If you can notice emotions without becoming them, they no longer determine your behavior.
We always have a choice. A thought or feeling in itself doesn’t prevent you from taking any action. It’s easy to think, "I’m frightened and can’t speak," but this is a trick of the mind. It would be more accurate and authentic to say, "I’m frightened and I’m choosing not to speak." Being able to observe our emotions, even when they feel overwhelmingly powerful, creates a space in which we can reference our commitments and values. While we cannot always choose our emotions, we can choose our response to them. This gets to the heart of responsibility, and responsibility is probably the closest thing to a superpower that human beings possess.
Once I grasped this concept, then I was able to learn ways in which I could combine emotional management with physical sensation to further bond the connection for the eventual healing. That is when I learned about grounding techniques, As a therapist today I can tell you that there are probably hundreds of grounding techniques out there, mainly because people handle emotional management problems differently all the time. The ones I was to share with you are physical techniques that may help you with your emotional management issues during this time of recovery:
These techniques use your five senses or tangible objects, things you can touch, to help you move through distress.
1. Put your hands in water
Focus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?
Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?
2. Pick up or touch items near you
Are the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.
3. Breathe deeply
Slowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.
4. Savor a food or drink
Take small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy, letting yourself fully taste each bite. Think about how it tastes and smells and the flavors that linger on your tongue.
5. Take a short walk
Concentrate on your steps, you can even count them. Notice the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.
6. Hold a piece of ice
What does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?
7. Savor a scent
Is there a fragrance that appeals to you? This might be a cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favorite soap, or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).
8. Move your body
Do a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping jacks, jumping up and down, jumping rope, jogging in place, or stretching different muscle groups one by one.
Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands? If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope in the air and when it hits the ground.
I hope that some of these can help, and if you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out, I hope you have a wonderful day!