Turn on the television these days and you’re likely to be hit with news of some devastating incident—a natural disaster, mass shooting, or deadly accident. Even if you don’t live nearby and don’t personally know anyone affected, it can take a toll emotionally. In fact, sometimes it can be so overwhelming it can even knock a strong Warrior on your rear and create fear.
Here in California recently, we were reeling from the senseless mass shooting of a dozen innocent people in a country western bar followed the next day by massive wildfires that charred thousands of acres and burned over 100 homes to the ground. The TV news coverage was nonstop and seeing all the devastation left me feeling drained, sad, angry, and a bit helpless. Several people we know lost their homes and possessions just before the holidays.
As a former trauma nurse, I’m used to running toward danger and helping those in critical condition. But when the crisis is one that is impossible to help put a stop to in the moment, it can be frustrating.
I talked to so many of my friends after these terrible events who wanted to help but weren’t sure what to do and others who felt despondent and scared about their own safety.
You may have some of these same feelings when disaster hits. Here are a few tips to help you and your kids cope during times of crisis.
Understand it’s normal to feel a range of emotions. Acknowledging your feelings and giving yourself permission to have these emotions is key to helping you recover.
Give what you can. If you want to help in a disaster situation but aren’t sure how, check with your local Red Cross about donations, blood drives, and other ways to make a difference. One thing I have done is become a CERT or community emergency response team volunteer with the city I live in. Not only am I able to help in times of crisis, but I now have a community of people to work with. Additionally, the city offers training and information that is very empowering.
Talk to your children. It’s important to spend extra time with your kids and to encourage children to talk about their feelings. You may want to limit their exposure to media coverage if it’s upsetting to them. I always check in with my daughter Chloe when a major disaster occurs so she can work through any feelings she’s having.
Ask for help. If you feel despondent, hopeless, or can’t get through your daily activities and can’t think straight at work, consider contacting a crisis counselor, your pastor or rabbi, or a mental healthcare professional for help processing your feelings.
Update your family’s disaster plan. This is a good time to go over your family evacuation plan in case of a fire, hurricane, earthquake, or other event. Make sure you have disaster supplies on hand as well as a plan to contact each other if you aren’t together when disaster strikes.
For more detailed tips on getting ready for a disaster, check out my Emergency Preparedness videos on YouTube:
Emergency Preparedness: Part 1
Emergency Preparedness: Part 2
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