Posted by Roxy on Fri, 09/01/2017 - 11:21 AM

Help after Harvey…

After a difficult event (like a Hurricane) your body and brain can go into emotional overload. Through the stress, loss and helplessness it is normal to feel physical as well as emotional pain. It is crucial that you are aware of these signs as well as to implement coping strategies to overcome these reactions.


Emotional Reactions:

  • shock and disbelief
  • fear and/or anxiety
  • grief, disorientation, denial
  • hyper-alertness or hypervigilance
  • irritability, restlessness, outbursts of anger or rage
  • emotional swings -- like crying and then laughing
  • worrying or ruminating -- intrusive thoughts of the trauma
  • nightmares
  • flashbacks -- feeling like the trauma is happening now
  • feelings of helplessness, panic, feeling out of control
  • increased need to control everyday experiences
  • minimizing the experience
  • attempts to avoid anything associated with trauma
  • tendency to isolate oneself
  • feelings of detachment
  • concern over burdening others with problems
  • emotional numbing or restricted range of feelings
  • difficulty trusting and/or feelings of betrayal
  • difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • feelings of self-blame and/or survivor guilt
  • shame
  • diminished interest in everyday activities or depression
  • unpleasant past memories resurfacing
  • suicidal thoughts
  • loss of a sense of order or fairness in the world; expectation of doom and fear of the future
  • anger towards religion or belief system; loss of beliefs
  • desire for revenge

Physical Reactions:

  • aches and pains like headaches, backaches, stomach aches
  • sudden sweating and/or heart palpitations (fluttering)
  • changes in sleep patterns, appetite, interest in sex
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • easily startled by noises or unexpected touch
  • more susceptible to colds and illnesses
  • increased use of alcohol or drugs and/or overeating

Coping Strategies:

  • mobilize a support system -- reach out and connect with others, especially those who may have shared the stressful event
  • talk about the traumatic experience with empathic listeners
  • cry
  • hard exercise like jogging, aerobics, bicycling, walking
  • relaxation exercise like yoga, stretching, massage
  • humor
  • prayer and/or meditation; listening to relaxing guided imagery; progressive deep muscle relaxation
  • hot baths
  • music and art
  • maintain balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible
  • avoid over-using stimulants like caffeine, sugar, or nicotine
  • commitment to something personally meaningful and important every day
  • hug those you love, pets included
  • eat warm turkey, boiled onions, baked potatoes, cream-based soups -- these are tryptophane activators, which help you feel tired but good (like after Thanksgiving dinner)
  • proactive responses toward personal and community safety -- organize or do something socially active
  • write about your experience -- in detail, just for yourself or to share with others

You may also see a mental health professional to assist in recovery.

Renewing Hope Counseling can offer help as well as other resources that are available to you!

Please see the website at (resources)

Be sure to CONNECT – ask for help, support and understanding!

Dr. Roxy Riefkohl - Siegrist



Article Reference:

Patti Levin, LICSW, PsyD

© 1989, 2001, 2003, 2011 by Patti Levin


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