Queensland and the New South Wales coast was wrecked by severe winds and storms over the weekend. My old stomping ground, the Northern Beaches of Sydney was some of the worst hit. Photos of flooding, erosion, wind damage and general destruction have been all over the news and social media this morning. I know that there are many families out there who will be dealing with the aftermath this morning so I thought I’d share some ways on how to cope with experiencing disaster or a trauma such as this.
1. Whatever You Feel Is Okay
There is no right or wrong way to feel when you’ve experienced a traumatic event and no-one should tell you how you should feel. If you feel relieved and grateful that you’ve survived then that’s fine. If you are angry and pissed off, then that’s okay too. If you are rationalising it and the outcome then that is also acceptable. You may cycle through emotions, you may cry or scream or take it out on those around you.
The key to managing your emotions is not to deny how you are feeling. Being open and honest with what’s going on for you will help you heal.
2. Talk About It
Along with accepting your emotions is the importance of expressing how you are feeling to those around you. Connecting with people who are going through similar experiences, either currently or in the past will help you not only gain perspective but to help you relieve stress. You can talk to friends or family, professionals or even people you meet along the journey of coping with the trauma or rebuilding from a disaster. As long as you talk and don’t internalise or take destructive action (e.g. acting out, taking drugs / alcohol, violence etc…)
3. Look After Yourself
Anyone who follows me will know that this is a core message of all my coaching – the importance of looking after yourself. Follow trauma or disaster this is incredibly important. If you can’t or won’t look after you then you won’t be helpful to anyone else around you that you are trying to support. This is key for mums. Even in normal situations mums are too often known to be self-sacrificing and put themselves above everyone else, and in a disaster this can be heightened. Now is not the time to be doing it all, instead accept help from those around you who are offering it. Look after yourself and your immediate family while you heal.
4. Keep Your Routine Going
This is incredibly important for families with children. Having a predictable routine where family members and children know what to expect can help them manage stress and get back into a sense of normality. The same applies to you. Once you have managed the initial trauma and disaster management, going back to work or keeping appointments, dates with friends will help life get back to normal. Now of course there is no point pushing yourself to get back to where you were ‘before’ so if it becomes too much then relax and make sure that you go back and revisit the three points above and then get back to your routine.
5. Seek Professional Help
There is no right or wrong time to seek the help of someone who is professionally trained in trauma or disaster recovery. However if you are still experiencing severe or debilitating emotions that is negatively impacting your life after 4 to 6 weeks then it is definitely time to reach out. Your local GP or local emergency services can point you in the right direction of someone who may be able to help you or your family. The same applies to your children. If you think they might need to talk to someone, check in with your GP or Early Childhood Health Centre for some advice or a referral.
Recovery can be a short or a long journey – and it’s a very individual journey as well. Please know that I am available for any mums to have a chat to as they recover from this storm. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me via firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook. Don’t hide, reach out. There are people who want to and willing to help.