Having gotten a significant portion of my training in the treatment of trauma-related mental illness, I have an interest in the effects of natural disaster on mental wellness. This being hurricane season raises particular interest to me as my first exposure to natural disaster treatment was Hurricane Katrina. I am watching the coverage of the “Perfect Storm” hitting the east coast. Watching the news feeds and internet has encouraged me to give some tips to self-care.
For those in the storm…please follow safety recommendations first and foremost. A significant factor in contributing to post-traumatic stress disorder is the actuality and perception a person has of feeling safe in their environments. Also, do not isolate yourself from others sharing this traumatic experience. In natural disasters and combat, a healing factor is the shared experience of the trauma and ability to discuss its impact with others. After the storm passes, surround yourself with supportive individuals that empathize with your trauma and can provide emotional support.
For those watching…Please turn the channel from time to time. Watching the tragedy of others puts us in a vulnerable position and, if we do not occasionally distance ourselves, we will start to personalize and internalize the trauma of others. Also, reach out and offer aid however you can. Being active in the healing of others is quite therapeutic.
After every natural disaster, the true outcome is measured in the following weeks. These are self-care suggestions. I hope they help.