Many things need to be addressed and taken care of after a disaster has stricken you and/or your loved ones. American Red Cross teams go into the community after a disaster and asses the immediate needs in the community such as: shelter, food, and clothing. In addition, the teams asses the need for emotional coping and the state of emotional health. The Red Cross Mental Health Teams Help People Cope During Disaster.
A disaster can and very well may bring on significant stress. There are stages of dealing with and handling the stress and emotions that come with disaster. The feelings you may be experiencing immediately after an event:
- the feeling of being physically and emotional drained
- difficultly making decisions
- maintaing focus
- become frustrated easily or become irritated more frequently
- arguing more than normal with family and friends
- feeling tired, sad, numb, lonely or anxious
- changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns
Although most of these reactions are temporary, they are still something to take notice of and acknowledge.
After acknowledging these emotions, take these steps to get yourself and your life back on track:
- safety: this not only involves your mental health but also your physical health. seek medical attention if required
- eat: it is important to maintain a healthy intake of water and food when stress is at an all time high
- rest: with all of the stress and things to worry about, it may be hard to find time for proper rest but it is incredibly important to give your brain and body a break
- stay connected: receiving support from friends and family is one of the most important and rewarding things you can give yourself during a time that is incredibly stressful
- be patient with yourself and others: acknowledge the fact that everyone will handle a disaster differently, each person will go at their own speed in putting their thoughts and emotions in order
- set priorities: tackle tasks in small steps; do not overwhelm yourself
- gather information: assistance and resources are available for you regarding your disaster-related needs
- stay positive: recognize that you went through a difficult event and that you can and will get through this. Reach out to family, friends, or to professionals if needed
Typically, people that experience a stressful life event eventually feel better within two weeks or so. However, if you find yourself or a loved one still experiencing any of the following feelings or reactions after a few weeks, it may be time to seek further assistance:
- crying spells
- outbursts of anger
- difficulty sleeping/eating
- loss in interest to things that were previously enjoyed
- increase in physically pain such as headaches and/or stomach aches
- feeling irritable or anxious
- the feeling of guilt, helplessness, or hopelessness
- avoiding friends and family
The good news is that you are not alone with these feelings or reactions; Many people have experienced and are successfully coping with stressful and traumatic events.
If you are need of help or assistance, The Red Cross is there for you. Please visit http://www.redcross.org/find-help for more information and resources.
If you or someone you know is feeling that their life is not worth living or if thoughts of harming yourself or others are occurring please seek immediate help. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or SuicidePreventionLifeline.org