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Top 10 Natural Disaster Recovery Self-Help Tips

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Updated October 31, 2012

When a natural disaster occurs, the effects are far-reaching. The victims, friends and family members, rescue workers, healthcare providers, and, thanks to the power of the media, even people on the other side of the globe can all feel the effects of a large-scale disaster. During a time when resources are dedicated to basic survival needs, it becomes very important for all who are affected to care for their own mental health. These self-help tips can aid in the disaster recovery process.

1. Give and Receive Support

During disaster recovery, be willing to give and receive support from others. Talk about what you are feeling and be a good listener when others need to talk.

2. Get Back to Familiar Routines

As much as possible, resume everyday routines. The familiarity of routine can be comforting and restore a sense of normalcy to an abnormal situation.

3. Take Time to Grieve

During a disaster, loss takes many forms. It could be a death, the loss of your personal belongings or a way of life. Allowing yourself to grieve will help you recover from the loss much quicker than burying those feelings. If you need to cry, that's okay. It's your body's way of relieving those painful feelings.

4. Set Small, Achievable Goals

During the process of disaster recovery, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the devastation around you. Set yourself small, achievable goals each day to avoid becoming immobilized by these feelings.

5. Eat Well and Get Some Exercise

This may not be possible during the early stages of disaster recovery, but making the effort to take care of yourself will help you keep your physical strength up which in turn helps you stay emotionally strong.

6. Get Enough Sleep

When you are under stress, sleep is more important than ever. Practice good sleep hygiene to the extent possible. Sleep and mood are closely related.

7. Get Back in Touch With Simple Comforts

What simple comforts do you enjoy? Admiring the beauty of a sunny day, hugging a cherished pet or reading a good book are examples of simple pleasures that can be comforting in times of stress.

8. Find Something Positive You Can Do

Doing something positive to aid in disaster recovery efforts, such as volunteering your time or donating money can help alleviate the feelings of powerless that often follow a disaster.

9. Give Yourself a Break

Do something totally unrelated to the disaster to take your mind off it. For example, play a game or shut off the TV news for awhile.

10. Be Aware of PTSD Symptoms

Some will need extra help with long-term disaster recovery. If fearfulness, nightmares and depression persist these may be signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which require professional help.
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