Disasters, whether natural or manmade, can be traumatic for even the most resilient individuals. That’s why you should be prepared to deal with the emotional fallout of any disaster that comes your way. Below are 7 tips on how you can survive trauma caused by disasters:
- Don’t fight the disruption. When faced with natural or manmade disasters, it’s important to not resist the inevitable challenges you will face. Power disruptions, food shortages, and even violence are often part of experiencing disaster. But if you are not emotionally prepared to weather these challenges, then the experience may cause extreme stress and long-term trauma. Instead of resisting, accept that your life will be disrupted for at least some time.
- Avoid making major life decisions. The time during or immediately after a disaster can be extremely stressful and may harm your ability to make smart decisions. Put off making major decisions such as changing jobs, moving to another state, or marrying/divorcing until well after the disaster is over.
- Don’t play the tough guy/girl. Any disaster can have a traumatizing effect on even the most resilient person. To cope with the inevitable trauma and heal, you must be willing to engage in the self-care and outreach to your network that will be necessary to stay emotionally healthy.
- Share your experiences. Surrounding yourself with others who understand your experience can go a long way in helping your recover from trauma after a disaster. Share your story with supportive and healthy groups of individuals who are also experiencing the disaster. You should also work with a trauma care counselor to get on the road to trauma recovery.
- Get the basics. To minimize the amount of trauma you experience during a disaster, make sure you secure your housing, food, and access to clean water. Depending on the severity of the disaster, even the most basic services can be damaged or eliminated. Securing the basics necessary for life is critical to minimize the traumatic impact of disasters.
- Get a routine. Creating a new routine or getting back to your old one as soon as possible is critical to minimizing the trauma associated with disasters. This is especially important for children. If schools have been closed due to a disaster, try to setup a daily study/reading time for your children so that the disruption to their routine is minimal.
- Don’t self-medicate. Using drugs and alcohol to cope with a disaster can be both dangerous and damaging to your trauma recovery. Instead of relying on drugs and alcohol, use healthy eating, exercise and your social network to cope with the effects of a disaster.
While going through any disaster can be traumatic, being proactive about self-care and reaching out to your network can minimize its impact on your recovery.