Dealing with Stress After a Disaster

Diane Sasser  |  3/17/2005 3:03:18 AM

A natural disaster leaves more than a trail of property destruction in its wake. Many times it leaves thousands of its victims with a destroyed sense of balance. In addition to restoring buildings and replacing material possessions during the recovery period, victims may need to devote time to getting their stress level under control.

Tips

  • Be extra patient with yourself and others.
  • Determine what's really important, keeping in mind that your mate's viewpoint on what should be considered top priority may differ from yours.
  • Don't expect things to restore themselves instantly. Accept that restoration (both physical and emotional) takes time.
  • Realize that disaster victims have suffered losses, and it's natural for them to express disbelief, anger, sadness, anxiety and depression.
  • Realize that the emotions of victims will rollercoaster, and moods can change unexpectedly.
  • Don't overlook the feelings of children as you deal with the situation.
  • Try to keep your body healthy and strong. Keep your family's diet as nourishing as possible under the circumstances. Get rest and some relaxation when possible.
  • Refocus on the big picture instead of the little details and the little problems. This will give you the ability to move forward.
  • Talk with friends, family, ministers. In crisis situations, a supportive network is essential. Provide help to other families when possible. It will make both of you feel better.
  • Be aware of the tendency to resort to bad habits when you are under stress. People who resort to alcohol, blaming, denial, smoking, overeating and revenge eventually cause more problems than they solve. If you feel like you have many symptoms of stress, get a plan to manage your stress better.
  • Think positive. Develop a sense that things will work out. Remember that events rarely destroy people. It's people's reaction to events that cause the problems.
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