With recent tornadoes that have devastated the
Midwest and now the start of hurricane season on the East Coast, many people
across the country are facing traumatic experiences. Whether it’s a frightening
storm or something even worse, these 21 tips provided by Mental Health America,
a proud member of Community Health Charities, can help you cope.
If you live in an area that is prone to natural
disasters, it’s important to do everything you can to be prepared. We also
invite you to visit the Health Matters at
Work Emergency Preparedness page, which provides links to
information about emergency and disaster preparedness from our member
immediate action to ensure your physical safety and the safety of others.
If possible, remove yourself from the event/scene in order to avoid further
your acute medical needs (e.g., if you’re having difficulty breathing or
experiencing chest pains, seek immediate medical attention).
a safe place that offers shelter, water, food and sanitation.
aware of how the event is affecting you (i.e., your feelings, thoughts and
actions, as well as your reactions to them)
that your reactions are normal responses to an abnormal event. You are not
“losing it” or “going crazy.”
with your physician or healthcare provider and make him/her aware of what
has happened to you.
aware of how you’re holding up when there are children around you.
Children will take their cues from the adults around them.
to obtain information. Knowing the facts about what has happened will help
you keep functioning.
possible, surround yourself with family and loved ones. Realize that the
event is likely affecting them, too.
your story, and allow yourself to feel. It’s okay to not be okay during
a traumatic experience.
may experience a desire to withdraw and isolate, causing a strain on
significant others. Resist the urge to shut down and retreat into your own
stress may compromise your ability to think clearly. If you find it
difficult to concentrate when someone is speaking to you, focus on the
specific words they are saying. Slow down the conversation and try
repeating what you have just heard.
make important decisions when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Allow trusted
family members or friends to assist you with necessary decision-making.
stress is causing you to react physically, use controlled breathing
techniques to stabilize yourself. Take a slow deep breath by inhaling
through your nose, hold your breath for 5 seconds and then exhale through
your mouth. Upon exhalation, think the words “relax,” “let go,” or “I’m
handling this.” Repeat this process several times.
that repetitive thinking and sleep difficulties are normal reactions. Try
the following: Eliminate caffeine for 4 hours prior to your bedtime,
create the best sleep environment you can and take a few moments before
turning out the lights to write down your thoughts (thus emptying your
yourself permission to rest, relax and engage in non-threatening activity.
Read, listen to music, take a warm bath, etc.
exercise may help dissipate the stress energy that has been generated by
your experience. Take a walk, ride a bike or swim.
a journal. Writing about your experience may help to expose yourself to painful
thoughts and feelings, and ultimately enable you to assimilate your
you find that your experience is too powerful, allow yourself the
advantage of professional and/or spiritual guidance, support and
to maintain your schedule. Traumatic events will disrupt the sense of
normalcy. We are all creatures of habit. By maintaining our routines, we
can maintain a sense of control at a time when circumstances may lead us
to feel a loss of control.
often presents opportunities. Cultivate a mission and purpose. Seize the
energy from your experience and use it to propel you to set realistic
goals, make decisions and take action.
To learn more, please visit www.mentalhealthamerica.org.
Mental Health America
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