24 Hour Crisis
& Suicide Hotline
(317) 251-7575 or
Coping With the Stress of Natural Disasters
Since our community has been hit by a natural disaster, we try to make sense
of what happened and deal with the stress of the situation. The flooding which happened
in our communities creates a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety for those directly
and indirectly affected.
These are some of the common reactions that those affected might have experienced:
- Disbelief and shock
- Fear and anxiety about the future
- Disorientation or difficulty making decisions or concentrating
- Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about the event
- Irritability and anger
- Sadness and depression
- Feeling powerless
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep
It is normal to have difficulty managing your feelings after major traumatic
events. However, if you don't deal with the stress, it can be harmful to your mental
and physical health. Here are some tips for coping in these difficult times.
- Talk about it. By talking with others about the event, you can relieve stress and realize
that others share your feelings.
- Spend time with friends and family. They can help you through this tough time.
If your family lives outside the area, stay in touch by phone. If you have any children,
encourage them to share their concerns and feelings about the disaster with you.
- Limit exposure to images of the disaster. Watching or reading news about the event
over and over again will only increase your stress.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and eat properly. If you smoke or drink
coffee, try to limit your intake, since nicotine and caffeine can also add to your stress.
- Take one thing at a time. For people under stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes
seem unbearable. Pick one urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task,
choose the next one. "Checking off" tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment and make
things feel less overwhelming.
- Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may temporarily seem to
remove stress, but in the long run they generally create additional problems that compound
the stress you were already feeling.
- Ask for help when you need it. If your feelings do not go away or are so intense that
they interfere with your ability to function in daily life, talk with a trusted relative,
friend, doctor, or spiritual advisor about getting help.Don't try to cope alone. Asking for help
is not a sign of weakness.
Throughout the community, there have been people who are willing to help and many
have and continue to do so. It will take a long time to recover from natural disasters because
it has caused so much pain for so many people. There will be better days ahead!!
For more information on stress and related treatment, contact Mental Health America
at 1-800-969-5542 or log onto www.mha.org
P.O. Box 51
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 522-3480
Fax: (812) 524-8176