Disasters carry more than a physical and financial cost–they also bring a heavy emotional toll on individuals and families. Often, this emotional hardship is brought on by financial strains like a damaged or lost home, business, or personal property. In the worst scenario of all, the loss of a loved one from a disaster brings the most difficult emotional trauma. No matter the circumstance, disasters are stressful occurrences and finding ways to cope can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you cope with the stress of the aftermath of a disaster.
Recognize Emotional Signs
After a disaster it is important to remain aware of the emotional signs that may be emerging. There are a lot of feelings that you may be experiencing and they are perfectly normal after a tragic event. Feeling anxious about your safety and the safety of family and friends is natural. Sadness, grief, and anger are also all natural reactions to a disaster. Instead of rejecting or suppressing these emotions, you should acknowledge that everyone copes with disasters differently and accept your feelings for what they are. Focusing on your personal strengths and abilities and finding support where you can are also good ways to begin coping with what has happened.
Seek Help & Understand Stress Signals
In the aftermath of a disaster you should seek out any available resources for help. FEMA and state and local governments may provide crisis counseling assistance. You may also find resources in volunteer agencies and faith based organizations. During this time you should also be attuned to signs of disaster related stress that may be affecting your eating and sleeping habits and relations with other people. Counseling or stress management assistance may be necessary if the stress becomes unmanageable and your physical and mental health is deteriorating. Things like: difficulty sleeping, clouded thoughts, short attention span, increased use of drugs or alcohol, depression, hopelessness, mood swings, and reluctance to leave home or interact with friends or family are all characteristic of post-disaster stress.
Confronting Disaster Related Stress
The best ways to deal with serious disaster related stress is to talk about it with those close to you or seek professional counseling. Though it can be difficult, talking through your emotions can be therapeutic and help speed recovery. Doing this in conjunction with taking steps to improve your physical, mental, and emotional well being is an important part of confronting and surpassing disaster related stress. Make an effort to keep a regular daily routine and spend time with family and friends. Try to limit demanding responsibilities for the initial stages of recovery. This will help you achieve a balance and confront responsibilities little by little. Support groups and staying active and engaged with personal hobbies and interests can help ease the coping process enormously and get you back to good health.