Coping With Natural Disasters—Part 3

by Doc Orman, M.D.

How To Cope With Natural Disasters Part 3This week, we’re looking at how to cope with natural disasters, such as the one the northeast U.S. recently experienced from Hurricane Sandy. 

In my first post this week, we saw how the media can add additional stress to any natural disaster by focusing primarily on all the negative aspects of the tragedy. 

Then, in my second post, I explored how we can make the stress of dealing with natural disasters worse through our own stress-generating thought patterns

Today, I want to look at some common behavior patterns that can make a bad natural disaster even worse.

1) Blaming Yourself Or Others

When disaster strikes and things are in major disarray, there are plenty of opportunities to find fault with others.  There are also opportunities to find fault with yourself.

Maybe local or federal agencies are not responding as quickly or as helpfully as you believe they should.  Maybe your neighbors or other fellow citizens are not responding to the crisis in ways that please you.  Or maybe you did have sufficient warning that a disaster may be coming your way, but you didn’t prepare as well as you should.  Or now that the disaster has struck, your nerves are on edge, your stress levels are high, and you personally didn’t behave in ways you are proud of.

Whatever the reasons for things going wrong, it rarely helps your stress levels to engage in frequent or prolonged blaming behavior.  The temptation is often great to do so, and you may easily see others encouraging you to jump on the blame wagon, but you’ll be better off if you resist these temptations.

2) Turning To Alcohol Or Drugs

Many people habitually turn to alcohol, drugs, smoking, or other chemical coping strategies when disaster occurs and their overall stress levels rise.  While these coping strategies work, to some degree, in the short run, they are rarely good long-term stress solutions.

Additionally, they can impair your ability to respond to your immediate situation, and they can sometimes add to your problems by causing accidents, injuries, or possibly even death.

Here again, the temptation may be great for you to engage in these behaviors during times of major stress and disruption.  But you’ll probably be better off in the long run if you avoid these strategies altogether, or at least just use them in controlled moderation.

3) Failing To Anticipate

One very common internal cause of stress is Failing To Anticipate Likely Problems Or Delays.

This can play a major role in how well, or not well, you prepare for natural disasters which you have some degree of forewarning about.  You can also prepare for unexpected disasters by having backup power sources in place, stored food and water supplies, flashlights and batteries, etc.  

Also, once a disaster occurs, you need to anticipate what new types of problems and delays are likely to result from it.  The more you can anticipate and adjust to these new problems, the less stress and tension you will have in general.

4) Moaning, Groaning, And Complaining

Like blaming behavior, moaning, groaning, and otherwise complaining about any unfortunate circumstances you might be forced to deal with is not going to do you much good.  It will increase your stress levels, however, and while you may not have much control over the external disruptions around you, you certainly do have control over your own complaining behavior.

Usually, when a disaster occurs, there are so many immediate recovery tasks to attend to that you don’t have the luxury of engaging in much complaining behavior.  But once things settle down a bit, look out for this internal cause of added stress, both from within yourself and from the influence of others around you.

5) Failing To Support Others

Many people find that the best way to cope with a disaster is to spend a good bit of their time trying to help and support other people, instead of isolating yourself and only fixating on your own personal needs and desires.

Working closely with neighbors and other individuals in your community can help provide you with important social engagement that can do wonders for reducing your stress.  And by the same token, failing to reach out and join forces with others can have the opposite effect.

6) Becoming Hostile Or Violent

Obviously, stress levels are going to be high in the aftermath of any natural disaster.  People’s nerves are going to be on edge, and therefore angry feelings can be triggered much more easily.

Reacting to such angry feelings with hostility or violence is only going to make matters worse.  In addition to exposing yourself to increased risks of retaliation and injury, you may find that you are at serious odds with the law, which is only going to make a bad situation even worse.

Hostility and violence are rarely a good solution for anything.  But these behaviors might be more easily induced after a natural disaster, because of the overall breakdowns in order and civility that often follow.

Try to avoid these behaviors as much as possible, even if others around you are starting to engage in them.  Also try to provide whatever leadership you can in your community to make sure that such stress-worsening behaviors are kept in check.

Well, hope you’ve enjoyed this brief, three-part series on how to cope with natural disasters.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing once again on helping you avoid some of the man-made disasters that many people experience leading up to, and during, the holiday season.

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Once you do download these four e-books, I’m going to send you an email every day, for the next seven days, to support you in reading them all.

Go to http://beststresshelp.com right now and submit your best email address. Then, you’ll get an email asking you to confirm your intentions. When this email arrives (if you don’t see it within 10-15 minutes, check your spam folder), please click on the highlighted link and you’ll go directly to the download page, where all four e-books can be downloaded as one composite .zip file.

Best wishes and happy reading (and learning)!

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