If you or someone you care about feels emotional distress before (for example, during a forecast for severe weather or if there are 'terror alerts' issued), during or after (whether immediately after, days, weeks, months or even years) a natural or human-caused disaster- you are not alone.
For yourself or loved ones, practice the healthy coping that you have relied on in the past to get you through tough times or try the following tips:
Try to eat healthy, avoid using alcohol and drugs, and get some exercise when you can- even a walk around the block can make a difference.
Talk to someone you trust about how you are doing.
They may feel scared, angry, sad, worried, and confused. Let them know it's okay to talk about what's on their mind. Limit their watching of TV news reports about the disaster. Help children and teens maintain normal routines to the extent possible.
Some people have trouble falling asleep after a disaster, others keep waking up during the night.
If you have trouble sleeping:
Only go to bed when you are ready to sleep
Don't watch TV or use your cell phone or laptop computer while you're in bed
Avoid eating (especially sugar) or drinking caffeine or alcohol at least one hour before going to bed
If you wake up and can't fall back to sleep, try writing in a journal or on a sheet of paper what's on your mind.
Nature and animals can help us to feel better when we are down. See if you can volunteer at a local animal shelter- they may need help after a disaster. Once it's safe to return to public parks or natural areas, find a quiet spot to sit in or go for a hike.
Signs of stress can be normal, short-term reactions to any of life's unexpected events - not only after surviving disaster, but also after a death in the family, the loss of a job, or a breakup.
It's important to pay attention to what's going on with you or with someone you care about, because what may seem like "everyday stress" can actually be:
Depression (including having thoughts of suicide)
Alcohol or Drug Abuse.
If you find that 'nothing seems to work' or that your daily routines are increasingly hard to accomplish (like taking care of kids, concentrating at school or work, etc.) OR if you are or think you or a loved one may be depressed, suffer from anxiety or abusing drugs or alcohol- reach out for help & call (1-800-985-5990) or SMS (text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746) the Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7 for crisis counseling and support.