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After a Disaster: Self-Care Tips for Dealing with Stress

Things to Remember When Trying to Understand Disaster Events

  • No one who sees a disaster is untouched by it.
  • It is normal to feel anxious about you and your family's safety.
  • Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
  • Acknowledging our feelings helps us recover.
  • Focusing on our strengths and abilities will help you to heal.
  • Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.
  • We each have different needs and different ways of coping.
  • It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused great pain. However, nothing good is accomplished by hateful language or actions.

Signs That Adults Need Stress Management Assistance

  • Difficulty communicating thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Easily frustrated
  • Increased use of drugs/alcohol
  • Limited attention span
  • Poor work performance
  • Headaches/stomach problems
  • Tunnel vision/muffled hearing
  • Colds or flu-like symptoms
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reluctance to leave home
  • Depression, sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Mood-swings
  • Crying easily
  • Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt
  • Fear of crowds, strangers, or being alone

Ways to Ease the Stress

  • Talk with someone about your feelings -- anger, sorrow, and other emotions -- even though it may be difficult.
  • Don't hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel that you cannot help directly in the rescue work.
  • Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by staying active in your daily life patterns or by adjusting them. This healthy outlook will help yourself and your family. (i.e., healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation, meditation.)
  • Maintain a normal household and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities of yourself and your family.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Participate in memorials, rituals, and use of symbols as a way to express feelings.
  • Use existing supports groups of family, friends, and religious affiliations.
  • Establish a family emergency plan. Feeling that there is something that you can do, can be very comforting.

* When to Seek Help: If self help strategies are not helping or you find that you are using drugs/alcohol in order to cope, you are may wish to seek outside or professional assistance with your stress symptoms.

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2002 Article Reviewed: 2003

Your EAP is designed to help you deal with life stresses and a variety of personal challenges. For confidential services offered at not cost to employees and their families, please call:

Toll Free (800) 343-3822

TODD (800) 448-1823

Teen Line (800) 334-8336

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