People tend to show different reactions in the face of disaster given their various characters and experiences. According to a study, about 10% of disaster survivors showed minimal or transient impairment, while 51% suffered from moderate impairment and indicated prolonged stress. 21% and 18% of them respectively were severely and very-severely impaired [1]. While the statistics seem to suggest a concerning picture, with appropriate care, you can actually relieve the impact. Here are some tips to care for yourself so that you can feel more at ease [2] [3] [4] [5] [6].

Physical/ Behavioral

  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eat little but more often when experiencing poor appetite.
  • Try to do a moderate amount of exercise, e.g. jogging, swimming and brisk walking.
  • In case of insomnia, take up activities that can help you relax, such as reading or listening to music.
  • Try to keep a normal routine, e.g. eat, sleep or exercise regularly, so that you can render a sense of control and feel less anxious. This also includes children going back to school or adult returning work as soon as possible.
  • Practice relaxation technique, e.g. breathing exercise (see Resources: Psychoeducational Materials),which has a calming effect.
  • Do not resort to drugs, tobacco or alcohol. The short-lived numbness will only bring more discomfort and distress afterwards.

Emotional

  • Do not force yourself to forget the unpleasant event. Embrace your experience. Try to be patient with your emotional changes.
  • Let your emotions flow. Do not over-suppress your feelings.
  • Express your feeling in ways you feel comfortable with, e.g. talk to those willing to listen, reach out to people with similar experiences for mutual care and support, approach people not involved in the event for objective comments, or keep a diary.
  • Accept care from others and avoid isolating yourself.

Cognitive

  • Assure yourself that it is normal to have emotional, behavioral and physical responses after the incident.
  • Do not think that you are going crazy. Many people experience strong and complex reactions after disasters.
  • Do not expect yourself to recover within a short period of time.
  • Understand that the situation is difficult and that you have limitations. Avoid self-blaming.
  • Avoid making important decisions when you are under significant stress.

You may also reflect on your previous successful experience in coping with traumatic events. The skills worked then may serve as a reference for the current situation.

If the distress persists and disturbs your everyday life, you may consider seeking professional help (see Resources: Professional Services).

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