No matter how much we plan or how hard we try to predict them, natural disasters still have the ability to surprise us. They typically come out of nowhere and take our breath away. Wild fires, floods, and earthquakes all have repercussions long after the rubble has been cleaned up and the homes rebuilt.
Surviving a natural disaster can fill people with all kinds of feelings. It’s not uncommon for some to feel a mix of different emotions ranging from guilt to anxiety to a powerful sense of being overwhelmed. These are all perfectly normal responses to a natural disaster.
Healing is an ongoing process and the first steps can sometimes be the most difficult ones to take. Let’s take a look at where to start.
Surviving a natural disaster is a major life event. Friends and family may have been lost. Possessions and memories as well as pets and property may have been destroyed. Take the time to mourn those losses and acknowledge that you’re not going to bounce back to 100% right away.
Ask for the help you need
In times of crisis, your friends and family are going to want to help. Despite their best intentions, they may not know how to provide help so you need to tell them. You might just need a coffee and a chat, some clean clothes or pre-cooked food to heat up. The important thing is to ask for what will best help you.
Let it out
There will be all kinds of emotions flowing through you that you can’t keep bottled up inside. You need to express those feelings. That might mean talking to a friend or a support person, keeping a journal or even playing music or some other form of art.
You’re probably not alone in your experiences and the emotions you feel after a natural disaster. You might find it helpful to join a support group where you can share your experience with people who have been through a similar turn of events.
If anything is going to make you stressed, then surviving a natural disaster is sure to be one of them. Stress can creep up on you if you’re not careful. So, it’s best to take care of those little problems before they become big problems. Try and get out and do the things you used to enjoy. If you enjoy cycling, then go cycling. If you enjoy going to the movies, then go and catch a film. Allow yourself to relax and chill out. To learn more, check out our managing stress article.
No doubt your life has been all turned upside down. To gain some sort of control back, establish a routine again. Eat three squares a day, have a set bedtime, take an exercise class. Re-establishing a routine will help ease you back into normalcy.
If you can avoid making big life decisions during this time then you should. You’ve already gone through enough and there’s no point adding to that stress. Save changing jobs or other big decisions for a few months’ time when you have less on your plate.
If you find that some time has passed and you’ve been following some (if not all) of the above suggestions and still you’re not feeling any better, that’s alright. Trauma affects everyone differently and it takes everyone time to work through those emotions. If you feel that you’re not getting anywhere or are feeling worse, you can speak with one of our experienced and qualified counsellors either on the phone 1300 059 625 or via online counselling.
You can also find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.