Coping StrategiesGeneral Public

During the recovery phase following the disaster, people continue to experience stress, grief, and perhaps even some symptoms of depression and anxiety. During this period there are some helpful coping strategies to assist you in disaster recovery.
Helpful Coping Strategies

People are usually surprised that reactions to trauma can last longer than they expected. It may take weeks, months, and in some cases, many years to fully regain equilibrium. Many people will get through this period with the help and support of family and friends. But sometimes friends and family may push people to "get over it" before they're ready. Let them know that such responses are not helpful for you right now, though you appreciate that they are trying to help. Many people find that individual, group, or family counseling is helpful. The key word is CONNECTION; ask for help, support, understanding, and opportunities to talk.
The Chinese character for crisis is a combination of two words -- danger and opportunity. People who fully engage in recovery from trauma discover unexpected benefits. As they gradually heal their wounds, survivors find that they are also developing inner strength, compassion for others, increasing self-awareness, and often the most surprising -- a greater ability to experience joy and serenity than ever before.
Coping Skills
What can we do to cope with stress in our lives? "Coping reflects thinking, feeling, or acting so as to preserve a satisfied psychological state when it is threatened. Coping is typically not a single response, but a series of responses, initiated and repeated as necessary to handling the remaining, continuing, or transformed nature of the stressor."
Practical Coping Skills


Problem-Focused

Environment-Directed

Emotion-Focused

Self-Directed

Know Your Enemy-What is causing the stress?

Work to make your home a safe place

Develop and continue friendships/relationships

Do things that help you relax-walk, hike, read a book

Develop a stress management plan

Reduce stress in the workplace

Have hope and optimism that things will get better

Breathe

Utilize community resources

Breathe clean air and avoid toxins

Keep a sense of humor

Go Outdoors

Communicate with your immediate family about what is stressing you

Recognize what you can and cannot change in the environment

Be kind to yourself, and have a positive attitude

Healthy Diet and Reduce sugar and fat

Develop a family plan to address the stressor

Accept help from others

Participate in spiritual/faith-based activities

Drink Water

Time management

Seek to have a sense of control of your environment

Make time for quiet time each day

Regular aerobic exercise

Money management

Communicate your values, goals and action plans

Exercise regularly to build your self-esteem and manage stress

Participate in spiritual activity - get a massage, meditate

Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress

Make a list of things that are important to you that affect your environment

Develop thinking and behavior strategies to deal with your feelings and control your emotions

Get enough sleep

Seek professional help

Talk to a close friend about your stress

Join a support group

Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and other stimulants- avoid alcohol and drugs

Note: Many of the categories overlap and integrate

Stuart, M.E., adapted from Lazarus

 

Coping and Disaster Recovery
During the recovery phase following the disaster, people continue to experience stress, grief, and perhaps even some symptoms of depression and anxiety. During this recovery phase we may also experience some physical problems such as changes in sleep and appetite, digestive problems, more susceptibility to colds or other illnesses, and increased use of alcohol and other drugs. We may also have emotional responses such as fear, irritability, nightmares, difficulties concentrating, feelings of betrayal, and loss of interest in everyday activities.
What can we do to cope with these stresses as we journey toward recovery from disaster? Here are some helpful suggestions:

Remember that people who engage fully in recovery from disaster discover unexpected benefits. As they gradually heal their wounds, survivors find that they are also developing inner strength, compassion for others, increasing self-awareness, and often the most surprising -- a greater ability to experience joy and serenity than ever before.

 

Web Links
Georgia’s Disaster & Emergency Website. If computer access is possible during a disaster, this should be the first place to go.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) coordinates & maintains disaster response facilities & procedures in the state. It offers up-to-the-minute disaster information.
CBS News maintains this large database of disaster-related websites.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers this website for emergency preparedness.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers disaster-related information for individuals here.
Ready.gov provides this section of their website to help individual Americans “prepare, plan, and stay informed.”
Prepare.org offers a very helpful & comprehensive overview of what to do to prepare for disasters and what to expect after a disaster.
The American Red Cross offers this site to help you prepare and get trained for a disaster.
The American Red Cross offers this site to help you get assistance after a disaster.
The American Psychological Association (APA) offers tips for managing traumatic stress in recovering from disasters and other traumatic events.
This Department of Veterans Affairs website details the phases of traumatic stress during and after a disaster as described by the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.