LINCOLN, Neb. — As Nebraskans recover from a catastrophic storm system that devastated large swaths of the state, it’s natural to experience different and strong emotions. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help.
It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster. Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing.
Take the following steps to cope with a disaster:
• Take care of your body — Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
• Connect with others — Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
• Take breaks — Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
• Stay informed — When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.
• However, avoid too much exposure to news — Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.
• Recovery takes time — be patient with yourself and those around you. Recognize that everyone is stressed and may need some time to put their feelings and thoughts in order. Remind yourself of how you’ve successfully gotten through difficult times in the past.
• Set priorities — Tackle tasks in small steps.
• Seek help when needed — If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or the Nebraska Family Helpline at 1-888-866-8660.
Look out for these common signs of distress:
• Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
• Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
• Difficulty concentrating.
• Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
• Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
• Worsening of chronic health problems.
• Anger or short-temper.
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Help your children cope:
• Share age-appropriate information
• Reassure them
• Address rumors
• Answer questions
• Set a good example by taking care of yourself
• Limit exposure to media and social media of the event.
• Provide children with opportunities to talk about what they went through or what they think abot it. Encourage them to share concerns and ask questions.
For more tips for self-care during this difficult time, visit https://www.samhsa.gov/dtac/disaster-behavioral-health-resources.