Wildfires are devastating, destroying homes and ruining lives in their wake. Individuals often experience intense trauma and stress after they become a victim to this natural disaster. As emotions run high, it’s essential that people address the trauma and stress after a wildfire. Here are effective coping techniques to help with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors during the recovery process.
Understanding the Aftermath
Shock and denial are the most common and immediate reaction to wildfire devastation. Once those feelings subside, intense and unpredictable emotions are likely to follow. People become more irritable, their moods change drastically, and anxiety is at an all-time high. Depression is also common.
Vivid memories of the incident, flashbacks, and confusion take place. Physical reactions to this emotional trauma will happen, and sleeping patterns will be disrupted. Triggers might cause anxiety or panic attacks, while relationships become strained as people withdraw and isolate themselves.
All of the above is perfectly normal. Everyone deals with trauma differently, but the above are most likely to take place as people attempt to cope. Often times, trauma may cause an individual to be unable to work. These people usually need the help of employment law experts when their employer does not understand the situation or show compassion.
Restoring your emotional wellbeing and regaining a sense of control in your life takes time, but there are ways to get the process started and continue on a healthy path. The first, and most important step, is to give yourself the time you need to adjust. It’s okay to mourn your losses and rationalize the experience.
Don’t go through this alone, either. Rely on friends, family, and other support groups for help. Talking with trusted individuals about your trauma is the best way to overcome it. You might also need alone time. Don’t hesitate to unplug from social media and the news as you focus on you. Listen to music, write, draw, do whatever you enjoy.
You need to focus on healthy behaviors during this time, as well. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and get as much rest as you can. Don’t turn to alcohol and drugs, as these repress your feelings instead of letting you experience them. Relaxation techniques also help.
Re-establish your routines when you’re ready. Start small with a daily alarm, then work your way up to life as it was. It takes time, but allotting yourself a break from your routine to distract yourself from the fire will help you through it.
It’s also important to seek professional aid, both medically and legally. Insurance can cover loss, but you might also be able to file a civil claim for wildfire loss. For the medical side, seeing a therapist can help you work through the trauma you’ve experienced.
Getting Back on Track
Trauma is an intense experience, one that takes time to work through before your life can return to a semblance of normal. In the meantime, focus on the tips above as baby steps. They’ll help you work through your trauma at a healthy pace and get your life back on track.