Are you constantly getting into accidents? You’ve probably been called accident prone, clumsy, or a klutz. These names do not apply to those who have been injured because of someone’s negligence—that’s another category entirely.
Clumsiness applies to you if you’re the one who knocks over your glass of wine at dinner, trips over your own feet, and seems to always have at least one bruise, cut, or scratch on your body.
But research shows that being accident prone isn’t something you have to live with the rest of your life.
“We have enough evidence within psychology, neuroscience, and biomechanics research to know that people can definitely make changes and prevent accidents before they happen,” Charles Swanik, PhD, director of biomechanics and movement science at the University of Delaware told Health.com.
It will take some conscious effort, but you can reduce your accidents and cure your clumsiness. Here are some things you can try:
According to Dr. Swanik, too much stress can increase your clumsiness because it naturally slows down your cognitive processing and reaction times. It can also affect your peripheral vision.
“You don’t know where to look, or what to attend to that may be unsafe,” he says. “You may over-focus on whatever is stressing you out and avoid seeing potential danger.”
He suggests participating in anti-anxiety and stress reducing activities, such as exercise, healthy nutrition, and meditation. These simple changes to your lifestyle can improve mental processing and help you become more aware of potential dangers.
Address Emotional Health
Those who struggle from mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or ADHD are more likely to be accident prone, according to studies, because the emotional stress divides your attention and can lead to clumsiness.
“Certain emotional states can in and of themselves be a distraction so you’re not focused on what you should be — so you cut your finger while slicing bread or you slip while walking down stairs,” John Carr, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Washington told The Seattle Times.
Unfortunately, when bad things happen to individuals with mental health issues, it can make their mental state worse. It creates a nasty cycle of mental division in which mental awareness combats physical safety.
Taking charge of your mental health could be the solution to overcoming clumsiness. You might speak with a therapist or take prescription medication to help you control your fuzzy focus. As you become more in tune with your emotional needs, you’ll be more aware of your surroundings and reduce your accidents.
Consider Physical Health Problems
Clumsiness is often a direct symptom of physical health problems as well. Some of the most common illnesses or injuries associated with clumsiness include:
- Head injuries
- Medication reactions
- Alcohol consumption
- Drug use
- Muscle weakness
- Joint mobility problems
- Vision issues
- Serious illnesses that impair cognitive function, such as Parkinson’s Disease
You may not be aware that you have an illness affecting your ability to navigate physical objects without injuring yourself. If you’re concerned that your clumsiness is a result of an accident or a medical issue, see a doctor as soon as possible. It may be nothing, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
When you’ve diagnosed a physical issue that influences your clumsiness, take steps to correct or handle the problem. For example, if you’re not sleeping well, adjust sleep habits to inhibit fatigue. If you have an illness that makes it difficult for you to move around, consider asking someone to help or hiring in-home nursing assistance.
Exercise Your Brain
Jim Buskirk, physical therapist for the professional hockey team, the Chicago Wolves, says that neurocognitive tests and exercises can increase physical dexterity and reduce needless accidents.
“This is an equilibrium and balance system processing problem, where when you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time, things aren’t being processed 100% correctly,” he told Medical Daily. “And it manifests itself with a physical anomaly causing you to just be clumsy.”
There are many exercises you can do to improve cognitive processing and multitasking. You might also try apps that train your brain to think more clearly or be more aware of the world around you.
Some people are naturally more prone to accidents than others based on a variety of factors, so you may not achieve total relief from your clumsiness, but you can see a significant difference.