How to cope with the emotional effects of a disaster
IF YOU have ever survived a disaster, you may understand what other survivors have experienced: shock, denial, confusion, anxiety, and nightmares. Many disheartened and fatigued survivors have little motivation to move on in life.
If your life has been devastated by a disaster, you too may feel that you are near the breaking point. You may even begin to feel that your life is not worth living.
- Try to focus on what you still have rather then what you lost.
- Avoid making major life decisions.
- Get needed rest. Researchers report that after a traumatic experience, “a lack of quality sleep . . . can exacerbate your trauma symptoms and make it harder to maintain your emotional
- balance.” Therefore, it is wise to get sufficient rest.
- Discuss your feelings. Confide in a family member or trusted friend. In addition to providing a listening ear, family members or close friends can provide words of encouragement and give
- Communicate your experience. Express what you are feeling in whatever ways feel comfortable to you — such as talking with family or close friends, keeping a diary or engaging in a creative
activity (e.g., drawing, molding clay, etc.).
- Look ahead to better times.
- A person who experiences prolonged stress or severe anxiety may need to seek medical treatment.
- Establish or reestablish routines. This can include eating meals at regular times, sleeping and waking on a regular cycle, or following an exercise program. Build in some positive routines to
have something to look forward to during these distressing times, like pursuing a hobby, walking through an attractive park or neighborhood, or reading a good book.
- Keep a Family Disaster Plan
Additional Mental Health Resources
Recovering Emotionally from a Disaster
Talking to Children about Disasters
After the Flood: Emotional Distress and How to Manage it
Flood emergency resources in Iowa and Nebraska area:
Red Cross: Central Iowa Chapter
Disaster Assistance Programs
Visit your Local Community Action Agency to Apply for Assistance
Find an Agency
Help Available to Nebraska Flood Victims
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency: Shelters
Resources for Coping with Severe Weather and Flooding
Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center
Disaster Family Planning:
Prepare for Disaster: Make a Family Disaster Plan