Experts Offer Tips For Managing Stress After Hurricane

Rebecca White, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  9/8/2005 12:38:02 AM

News Release Distributed 09/07/05

You probably can’t avoid the stress coming in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but there are ways you can try to manage its effects, according to LSU AgCenter family and child development specialist Dr. Becky White.

"Losing homes, family members, friends and jobs certainly are some of the causes of stress for many people these days," White said, adding, "Millions of people are displaced and need to find ways to cope with stress. Whether they’re in hotels, shelters or living with friends, it’s a difficult time."

In addition to the major losses suffered by people across the hurricane-ravaged area of the Gulf Coast, others also have sources of stress.

"There are lines for gas and higher gas prices in a lot of areas," the LSU AgCenter expert explained. "Things like that are affecting everyone."

Among the other factors affecting even those who escaped the storm are traffic congestion, shortages of a variety of groceries and supplies, longer waiting lines in restaurants, cancellation of events scheduled for facilities now serving as shelters and much more.

"No one is escaping the stress," White said.

To manage these stressful times as best you can, White offers these tips from colleagues across the country:

–Be very patient.

–Establish what’s really important, but consider that everyone’s point of view on what is top priority may be different from yours.

–Don’t expect things to return to normal immediately. Accept that changes in your life, both physically and emotionally, will be here for a while.

–Recognize that hurricane victims have suffered losses and that it’s normal for them to express disbelief, anxiety, anger, sadness and depression afterward.

–Understand that the emotions of hurricane victims can swing dramatically, and moods could change without warning.

–Don’t fail to notice your children’s feelings. They need to feel they can rely on you for the extra love, attention and support necessary to get through this disaster. Comfort them, making sure they realize they are not responsible for the problems you face.

–Keep your family diet as nourishing as possible.

–To build a sense of capability, focus on the big picture rather than little details and problems.

–Talk with family, friends and clergy. A compassionate network is essential to your recovery.

–Resist the temptation to revert to personal bad habits while under stress.

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Contact: Becky White at (225) 578-6701 or bwhite@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Portions of this material were adapted from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service’s Disaster Resources written by Dr. Wayne Matthews.

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