APA advice for those affected by disasters
APA Help Center articles offer advice for those coping with late summer’s hurricanes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes.
Hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the Caribbean and Mexico. Flooding in the wake of the big storms, water rising in Georgia, and more flooding expected along Irma’s path. A devastating 8.1-magnitude earthquake, also in beleaguered Mexico. Wildfires in Montana, Idaho, California, Colorado, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon and Canada.
If life in North America feels star-crossed to you right now, you’re not alone. While those directly affected by the disasters across the continent struggle to put their lives back together, many others deal with from-a-distance anxieties that such events create.
APA provides a wide variety of articles to help readers learn to cope with those anxieties. With September designated as National Preparedness Month – and the array of disasters giving us all something to prepare for – this is a good opportunity to review how to deal with the psychological issues that such events can exacerbate. These Help Center articles may help you do just that.
Hurricanes and floods
While Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have already struck, the advice offed in our guide about preparing emotionally for a hurricane is still germane. As waters rise following their path, strengthening your emotional well-being ahead of a flood may help those facing their aftermath, especially as Irma’s remains track across Georgia, the Carolinas and into the Midwest. A key to managing flood-related distress: Building emotional resilience to better persevere through the challenges the flood brings.
Emotional concerns may linger well after the hurricane blows through and flood waters subside. Managing traumatic stress after the hurricanes can be made easier by, among other actions, allowing an opportunity to mourn losses, seeking support from others, establishing routines to gain a sense of control, and taking a break from incessant news coverage.
Post-storm, it’s a good practice to talk with children, who may be both frightened and bewildered following major disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes.
Farther west and north, citizens face wildfires filling the air with choking smoke, burning 1.6 million acres (and counting) while threatening homes and lives. Unpredictable and intense feelings are inevitable when recovering from wildfires. Personal relationships can be strained, and thoughts and behavior patterns disrupted, as post-traumatic stress affects lives and relationships.
On a more intimate scale, the wildfires have affected thousands of families who have lost homes and businesses to the flames. This article on recovering emotionally after a residential fire provides advice on recovering and coping with the loss of both property and peace of mind.
Dealing with disaster from afar
While millions face the direct impact of the storms and flames, countless others face emotional responses as they look on with both worry and sympathy. Dealing with hurricanes from afar produces traumatic distress even for those not directly affected. Maintaining a sense of perspective, acknowledging your feelings and looking for ways to help in the recovery effort can be effective tools for coping. The same advice holds for distress caused by distant earthquakes; read the article for information on how psychologists can help.
Of course, waters will eventually recede, and fires will eventually die out. But it’s important to deal with the emotional aftermath. Recovering emotionally from disaster involves providing time to adjust, seeking support from loved ones and sharing your experiences. It’s particularly important to help children understand their feelings regarding major disasters, which can be both terrifying and hard to grasp. Talking to kids about difficult news in age-appropriate language can give them a chance to feel safer and more secure.
For more articles related to psychological issues affecting your daily physical and emotional well-being, visit the online APA Psychology Help Center.