Disaster Stress Tips for Survivors

Disaster Stress: What to do?

  1. Create a plan. For your self, your family and your office or company as soon as you can after the disaster. Even if your future is uncertain, plan to walk, read, sleep or pray on a schedule and you will have a sense of control over your life.
  2. One person can change everything. One person in control can save another life or hundreds of other lives (Ex. 9-11, Katrina, Haiti and Japan). Be aware of your surroundings as you look and listen carefully. Can you help another person or family in need?
  3. Children mirror their parents’ stress. Your children could develop PTSD in the future, your response to this stress is essential to their mental health.
  4. Stress creates loss of memory, aggression, and anger. You do not think clearly. Your immune system gets depressed and you can get sick.

S.E.L.F. Care

By creating a sense of control, it will help you deal with the stress. There are many ways you can de-stress in a minute.

S=Stress/Serenity

  • Heart rate lowers
  • Blood Pressure lowers
  • Produce endorphins-serotonin; healing calming chemicals into your body; this lowers your production of stress chemicals
  • You become focused; memory clears
  1. Your breath. Deep cleansing breaths, close eyes, blow out stress and fear. Inhale to the count of four: 1-2-3-4, exhale to the count of 4: 1-2-3-4. Continue this slow, relaxing, cleansing breathing.
  2. Mini. Take a deep breath and say a short affirmation: Few word phrase; repeat over and over again with the breath. Use affirmations of “I am strong.” “I can do all things through God who strengthens me” Whatever scripture or inspirational saying that calms you.” Research shows when you memorize a short positive reassuring statement, you produce less cortisol, the stress hormone, when stressed.
  3. Prayers and meditation. Studies show this really works. Meditation lowers blood pressure and heart rate and gives you an immune boost.
  4. Hold onto something (memento or physical tool). Put something you love in your pocket, around your neck, on your wrist. A picture, cross or medallion on your neck or wrist, beads, rosary, mala beads and or prayer beads. Keep a sacred book with you; a bible, Koran or inspirational book. When you get stressed and overwhelmed: STOP! TOUCH THE OBJECT, BREATHE-SAY A WORD OR PHRASE THAT COMFORTS YOU (this is incredibly calming).
  5. Guided imagery. Imagine you are in a safe place in your mind. What place in your memory were you at the most peace and had the most serenity? Breathe and close your eyes and imagine you are at this place. Immerse yourself in every smell, sound, visual, touch and taste of this place. Create an anchor image. In the cave of your heart create a safe calm reassuring place to retreat.
  6. Music. Listen to soothing music. If there is no music available hum, chant or sing. This Increases serotonin in the body which is a healing chemical that helps with anxiety and depression.

E= Exercise

Take a walk. Create endorphins in your body. A Duke University study shows us simple exercise, walking, relieves major depression. Exercise helps you sleep. It stimulates your body to produce healing calming chemicals in your body. Exercise helps you focus and helps your memory. You will be less anxious and depressed.

L= Love

“You need a friend!” Stay Connected with others. Ask for help when you need it. Talking about it reduces the feelings of anxiety and hopelessness and helplessness. Love and community give you strength, courage, and support. Contact at least one person; have an agreement that you will call, email or contact them when you need to release; fears, crying, anger, grief; the many different emotions you will feel. Create a community wherever you are because this is your immediate family.

F= Food

Food is medicine. Try to keep your family’s diet as nourishing as possible under the circumstances.

  1. Eat breakfast. Increases metabolism 25 percent. Helps you focus and your memory. Centers and grounds you and your family. Helps you start the day.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish capsules. Help with anxiety and depression. Coat the stressed brain with fat that it needs during stressful times.
  3. Vitamin B’s and B6’s. B’s affect the brain and neurological system of the body. Take a B supplement. B6’s create serotonin in the body. B6’s: sweet potatoes, whole grains, rice, chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, ba, anas and mangos.
  4. Hot peppers and spices. These spices create endorphins in the body.
  5. Vitamin C. Some studies show vitamin C helps reduce stress hormone levels.
  6. Protein. Protein is the building blocks necessary for your body to function. Amino acids are critical for the brain to function.