Recovering from a Natural Disaster

The Woolsey Fire, The Hill Fire, and The Griffith Park Fire all hit Los Angeles and Ventura County at once. Over 150,000 people were forced to evacuate from their homes in Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Simi Valley, Calabasas and more.

Natural disasters like brushfires, floods, hurricanes and other traumatic ‘natural’ events are extremely challenging for the people directly affected. The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to ‘burnout’ and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Some people will be able to manage the stress but for others it may be difficult to cope. Most people eventually heal and recover and go on to rebuild their lives.

Impacts of Natural Disasters

  • Feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted or confused

  • Feeling sad, overwhelmed or angry

  • Shock, feeling ‘numb’

  • Uncertainty about the future

  • Feeling lonely, isolated or withdrawn

  • Feeling unwell – headaches, difficulty sleeping, eating, weight loss/gain

  • Resentment or blaming others

  • Increased substance use

  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

Strategies to Help you Cope with a Natural Disaster

Recovery takes time. It is important to allow yourself time to process your circumstances and regain a sense of normalcy. There are things you can do to heal and rebuild.

  1. Recognize when it’s getting too much - watch out for signs of stress and get extra support when things become overwhelming. Allow yourself extra time to get things done.

  2. Talk - release your emotions and tension by talking to someone you trust or a therapist. This can help put things into perspective. It’s likely others in your community are experiencing similar feelings so this gives everyone an opportunity to release negative feelings and discuss practical ways to deal with the situation.

  3. Develop an action plan - decide who’s going to do what and when. Summarize your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank to alleviate stress of any financial concerns. Having a plan will help you feel you are making progress.

  4. Take care of yourself - eat well, exercise and sleep. Try to get back to your normal routine when you feel ready. Wherever possible, schedule extra time for things you enjoy or that you find relaxing.

  5. Get help - lean on family and friends. Strong support networks can provide emotional or practical support. Explain your needs and tell them exactly how they can help. Make a list of places to go to for help e.g. financial assistance, emotional support, your GP a helpline Like Lifeline.

  6. Consider professional help - If you don’t feel some return to normal after four weeks, seek professional help (earlier if needed).

If you were affected by the fires in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are in need of extra support and a safe space to process the recent natural disasters, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!