Surviving a Disaster and Helping Others

Recent weather damages have left part of the nation in disbelief and shock; fear and anxiety about the future; and emotionally numb. These are common disaster stress reactions combined with disorientation, anger and irritability, depression and sadness, feeling powerless, crying, and physical ailments like headaches and insomnia. Try out these surviving a disaster tips.

Here are 10 tips for surviving a disaster:

Remember Your Breath

Take deep cleansing breaths, close your eyes, blow out stress and fear.

Discover a Mini

A mini is a 1-3 minute short meditation. Take a moment, if you are able, close your eyes or focus your eyes on something, take several deep diaphragmatic breaths, and repeat a 1-5 word affirmation with each deep breath like “Keep letting go…”

Prayer and Meditation

We have great science about the health benefits of getting our mind, body, and soul quiet. The practice of silence is referred to different names in different cultures and religions; meditation (Eastern roots), the relaxation response (medical roots) or centering prayer (Christian roots).

Hold on to Something

Put something you love in your pocket, around your neck, or on your wrist.  A picture, a cross, or medallion on your neck or wrist, beads, a rosary, mala beads, 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 and repeat a word or phrase that comforts you.

Guided Imagery

Imagine you are in a safe place in your mind.  Breathe and close your eyes.  If possible, use a guided imagery tape.


Disasters leave us feeling overwhelmed and confused and can cause stress and depression.  We have studies that show journaling relieves stress by writing the fear and anxiety out of your body onto paper.  Chronicle your journey through this trauma.


Listen to soothing music.  It increases serotonin in the body, a healing chemical that helps with anxiety and depression.


Take a walk to create endorphins in your body.  A Duke study shows us that simple exercise, such as walking, relieves major depression.  Exercise helps you sleep.  Exercise stimulates your body to produce healing calming chemicals in your body.  Exercise helps you focus and helps your memory.  Exercise will help you to feel less anxious and depressed.

Stay Connected with Others

Ask for help when you need it.  Talking about what is going on reduces the feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and helplessness.  Community gives you strength, courage, and support.  Contact at least one person; have an agreement that you will text, call, email or contact them when you need to release your fears, crying, anger, grief—all the many different emotions you will feel.

Food:  Food is medicine

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

  • Eat breakfast:  This increases metabolism 25 percent.  It helps you focus and aids your memory.  Breakfast centers and grounds you and your family and helps you start the day.
  • Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 creates serotonin in the body.  B6s are found in sweet potatoes, whole grains, rice, chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, bananas, and mangos.
  • Endorphins: Hot peppers and spices create endorphins in the body.
  • Vitamin C: Studies show that vitamin C helps reduce stress hormone levels.
  • Protein: Proteins are the building blocks necessary for your body to function.  Peanut butter is non-perishable and an excellent source of protein.