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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

Contact Us

P.O. Box 51
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 522-3480
Fax: (812) 524-8176