Experiencing a disaster or otherwise traumatic event can stir up an enormous amount of unexpected emotion. The aftermath of an emergency situation often leaves you in unfamiliar territory with a lot of unknown factors, and the unknown can truly be an unsettling or even scary place. It is hard to predict how you will really respond in any given situation until it actually happens. However, there is a lot to be said for mental/emotional preparedness and the positive effect it can have on your post-trauma behavior. This is because if you have prepared for, and even rehearsed, given scenarios, you will not feel like you are in such foreign territory and will therefore be able to respond to the challenges while still keeping your whits about you. This is especially important if you are a parent of young children (or children of any age for that matter!) who will be looking to you for guidance in a crisis situation. Your calm reaction and handling of the situation will go a long way in helping your children handle and heal from the trauma better and faster.
So on that note, here are some post-emergency stress tips, and in the future we will also discuss learning how to deal with our everyday stress so that we can be better prepared for emergencies as well. (This is a subject that will definitely benefit me! 🙂 Oh heavens!)
Some basic steps you can take to meet physical and emotional needs following a disaster situation are:
- Try to return to as many of your regular personal and family routines as possible. Normalcy is a great stress reliever.
- Get rest, nutritional food, and drink plenty of water. Your body will not be able to cope with a long-term stressful situation if it is not receiving the proper care that it needs (adrenaline will only get you so far).
- Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of the disaster, especially on television, the radio and in the newspapers.
- Focus on the positive.
- Recognize your own feelings. Reach out and accept help from others when needed. It is NOT a sign of weakness to ask for help!
- If you have not been greatly impacted, reach out and help others. Service is a great way to boost your positive emotions!
- Do something you enjoy. Do something as a family that you have all enjoyed in the past.
- Stay connected with your family and/or other support systems (i.e. church groups).
- And finally, realize that recovery can take time. Be patient in allowing things to settle down. They will. But it just takes time.
And may I just add a pleading note? Please do not neglect this area of preparedness. It’s easy to forget about because it’s not easily seen and it’s not something you can go out and buy. But it is every bit as important as a 72-hour kit or a shelf full of food. Take it from one who has had their share of breakdowns… learn how to deal with stress before it deals with you!
Photo courtesy of Zweettooth