How to Protect Your Mental Health During a Disaster

When we’re confronted with sudden, life-changing events such as natural disasters, our mental health can suffer. In these situations, it’s normal to feel shock, stress, sadness, anger, guilt, helplessness or anxiety – regardless of whether you are directly impacted by the disaster or not. While you might already have a lot on your plate to think about, it’s important to take care of your mental health throughout these times.

Here are a few simple yet effective ways to protect your mental wellbeing when you’re struggling with the aftermath of disaster.

If you’re dealing with a disaster and struggling with your mental health, Ok To Talk can help you find a great psychologist. Get started using our fast and FREE online service today!

Talk about how you’re feeling

Dealing with heavy emotions such as sadness, anxiety, helplessness or stress all by yourself can be really difficult. However, when you bottle these feelings up inside, they can start to feel even scarier and harder to manage. This is why it’s a great idea to open up about how you’re feeling to someone you trust.

Whether it’s a group of close friends or family members or just one trusted person, telling someone how you’re feeling is a great way to calm yourself in stressful times. Not only does it help you to better process your emotions, but it can feel great to be supported and feel less alone.

If you need someone to talk to, our free, online service helps you find a great psychologist suited to your specific needs anywhere in Australia.

Spend time with friends and family

Opening up about how you’re feeling can be hard. If you find that it’s too difficult to talk to your loved ones about your situation, simply spending time with them is a great alternative. In times of high stress, being around people who love and care for you is a great way to curb loneliness and anxiety. While it may be tempting to isolate yourself, this often leads to even greater feelings of sadness. If you have people you can lean on, express to them that you need some support right now. Even if it’s simply having people over for a cuppa, going for a walk or watching a movie, spending time with others is a great way to make yourself feel a little bit better.

Don’t read or watch triggering news

When you’re struggling with your mental health, the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out more. Unfortunately, when dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, something as simple as turning on the news can make you feel worse. While it’s vital to keep up to date with important safety information in times of a crisis. However, if you find that watching or reading general news coverage makes you feel anxious, stressed or sad, it’s a good idea to limit how much you actually consume.

Without these triggering images and information, you give yourself a chance to allow your mind to relax. Remind yourself that there is no shame in putting your mental health first, even if it means taking a step back from keeping up to date with the news.

Keep your routine as much as possible

For most of us, our daily routine makes us feel comfortable and at ease. However, in high times of stress, many of our regular habits can fall to the wayside. The act of cooking meals, doing some work or just going for your daily walk might not feel important when faced with the effects of a disaster, but keeping up with this routine can do wonders for your mental health.

These everyday activities can give us a sense of purpose. At a time when we might be tempted to stay in bed all day, they provide us with something to do. In addition to this, they can remind us that, despite disaster, things will eventually be normal again. You don’t have to do everything in your usual routine, but keeping up with a few vital activities can make the world of difference to your mental health.

Remember that it’s okay to feel down

With all these tips in mind, it’s important to remember that you’re allowed to feel sad when disaster strikes. Whether you’ve been directly affected or not, it’s okay to take time to deal with your emotions in whichever way you think is best. There is no right or wrong way to feel, nor is there any shame in asking for help.

If you’re struggling with the aftermath of a disaster, you can use our free service to find a mental health professional who can help you. Alternatively, if you require immediate help, you can use any of the below hotlines.

eheadspace 

Online mental health and wellbeing support for young people aged 12 to 25 years and their families.

Suicide Callback Service

1300 659 467

Lifeline

13 11 14

beyondblue

1300 224 636

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000.

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