January 30, 2014 Newsletter
Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved. The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage to and/or loss of home, business or personal property. Unfortunately, often times, even after the property has been replaced, and the structures repaired, these emotional scars remain and are more difficult to remedy.
To aid in disaster recovery, we must understand the individual effects of a disaster. Unfortunately, everyone who sees or experiences a disaster is affected by it in some way. While we are all different, some may feel anxious about their own safety and that of their family and close friends. Others may respond with profound feelings of sadness, grief and anger or may even want to strike back at the people who have caused such great pain.
While disasters are emotionally damaging towards everyone, children, senior citizens, people with access or functional needs, and people for whom English is not their first language are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters (even when the disaster has been experienced “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage). Children may become afraid and some elderly people may seem disoriented at first. People with language, access or functional needs may require additional assistance, beyond that offered to the general population, to understand or cope with the disaster.
In dealing with disasters, it is important to acknowledge the very complex feelings that you may feel under these circumstances, in order to help facilitate the healing process. Though everyone is different and has need of different methods for coping, it can be useful to focus on your strengths and abilities and accept help from community programs and resources to aid the process to recovery. However, one of the most important things to remember is to talk with someone about your feelings—anger, sorrow and other emotions—even though it may be difficult. You may even find it useful to seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.
Remember, it is important to not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or to be frustrated because you feel that you cannot help directly in the rescue work. Instead, take some extra time for yourself, creating a balance between time with your family and friends and time with yourself. While it is important to spend time with others, you still must remember your own physical and emotional needs by eating healthy, and by taking time for rest, exercise, relaxation and meditation.
During the healing process, you may also find it useful to maintain a normal family and daily routine, while limiting demanding responsibilities on yourself and your family. However, never underestimate the importance of participation in memorials or other events that are geared towards healing and remembrance. As long as these events are not creating unnecessary stress, they can be beneficial for closure as well as for locating and making use of existing support groups of family, friends and religious institutions who are able to identify with your emotions.
Contact Advance Counseling if you or someone in your family is experiencing issues with disaster-related stress. We would be happy to aid you in your recovery.
Increased anxiety levels occur during various times in our life, but there are ways to reduce the stress and retain normalcy.
Anxiety can be a feeling of apprehension, dread or fear over a real or imagined threat to your well-being. Some amount of anxiety, at times, is normal and can even be helpful. For example, mild anxiety prompts many people to complete assigned tasks or practice speeches. Feelings of anxiety can also alert you when danger is present. However, when anxiety is brought on by a traumatic event or constant fear of an unknown event, it can become overwhelming and may get in the way of your daily life. Below are some helpful tips to assist you in overcoming anxious feelings:
– Maintain control over those things that you can. For example, if you walk for exercise, continue to walk.
– Limit your television news viewing. Tragic things feed news coverage, but you don’t have to subject yourself or your family to repeated doses of it. Tune in for occasional updates, but limit your exposure if it adds to your anxiety or that of your family members.
– If it makes you feel better to keep family members close by, then do so. Being cautious about personal safety is good, but you should also try not to overreact.
– Do something for someone else. Taking attention off our own worries and doing something nice for someone else can improve our own frame of mind.
– Volunteer: contact area schools, hospitals or volunteer groups to ask how you can help. Taking action to be part of something positive is a very constructive way to reduce your anxiety.
– Take a class. For example, if you are scared of public speaking, enroll in a Toastmasters course. Improving your skills will increase your confidence and reduce your fear of speaking in front of people.
– Talk to someone. If you start to feel overwhelmed by your emotions, talk with a friend, family member, doctor, religious advisor or mental health professional.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:12
Resilience is the ability to withstand stress and trauma. Perhaps you’ve heard of it as the ability to “bounce back” after a difficult period. Resilient people are able to adapt to their circumstances and overcome obstacles. Everyone is capable of being resilient, but it is not something we’re born with. We develop resilience as we mature and gain better reasoning and self-management skills. Having supportive, healthy relationships with friends, family, and peers contributes to resilience, but even people who have experienced extraordinarily difficult situations are capable of developing resiliency.
9 traits of a resilient person are:
1. Recognizing the importance of having a good support network. Surrounding yourself with positive, caring people who understand your worth and will support you when you are going through difficult times makes a world of difference in your ability to weather obstacles. You should never try to struggle alone—recognize that there are people who love you and want to help you. Resilient people embrace their support system.
2. Seeing the silver lining in things. It’s not that resilient people don’t feel emotions like anger or grief during difficult struggles, it’s that they are able to recognize that difficult situations will eventually pass. They are able to focus on the lessons they’ve learned in their trials and embrace them, rather than focus on how negative the situation is. Resilient people have faith in their abilities and believe in their capacity to overcome problems. They’re able to laugh at themselves as well as tackle big problems.
3. Self-awareness. Resilient people are in touch with their needs—what they need, what they don’t need, and when they need to reach out for help. They are connected to what brings them meaning and adds value to their lives. They integrate positive habits into their lives and recognize when something is a strain on their physical, mental or emotional health.
4. Practicing healthy habits. People who exhibit resilience take care of themselves—they eat healthy food, exercise, and take responsibility for their physical wellbeing. They also make sure to get enough sleep, which is an integral part of being able to manage your emotional response to obstacles.
5. Contentment with their own thoughts. We live in an era so full of distractions that it can be difficult to turn off the TV, close Facebook, ignore the appetizing bowl of popcorn or stay in for a quiet night alone. But resilient people are able to be mindful and spend time alone with their own thoughts and self-reflections. Whether through prayer or meditation, taking time to exist in a moment without anxiety for the future is a characteristic of resilient people.
6. The ability to manage their emotions. We all experience strong emotions from time to time, but resilient people are able to recognize that emotions are fleeting. We cannot let anger or grief regularly cloud our judgment. Resilient people don’t let these strong emotions hamper their communication or problem-solving abilities. If you feel that your emotions are getting in the way of your ability to communicate or solve problems effectively, please contact Advance Counseling.
7. The capacity to eliminate negative self-talk. Being self-aware is an important aspect of being resilient, but it’s important not to focus too negatively on what you think you need to improve. If we spend too much time in our head, it’s easy for our thoughts to become overwhelming or tend toward the negative. While we all have negative thoughts, don’t focus on them too intently. Think positively about your strengths and all that you have to offer. Resilient people don’t dwell on negativity. Writing or journaling about your thoughts is a helpful way to reflect without letting your thoughts stew.
8. Not identifying as a victim. Instead of viewing themselves as victims of a situation, resilient people view themselves as survivors. They recognize that they have overcome difficult situations and have become stronger in the face of a challenge. Despite the seeming unfairness of life at times, resilient people are able to take on those challenges without focusing on how difficult a hand they’ve been dealt. They recognize that setbacks are part of life.
9. Knowing that tomorrow is a new day. Resilient people are able to consider the possibilities. They don’t assume that circumstances are permanent. Instead, they take a look at what parts of their lives can change or how they can view their situation differently. They have faith that things can always get better tomorrow.
While it’s normal for teens to have mood swings, teen depression is a serious mental health problem. It was once commonly believed that children could not get depression, so teens with depression were dismissed as being moody. However, researchers now know that young people who have depression may exhibit signs and symptoms that differ from the typical adult symptoms of depression. More than 1 in 10 teens have some signs of depression, but how do you recognize them?
If your child is depressed, he may:
– Feel sad or irritable (easily upset) most of the time
– Intentionally isolate himself from family and friends
– Lose interest in favorite activities
– Have aches and pains for no reason
– Sleep too much or be unable to sleep
– Eat too much or not enough
– Use drugs or alcohol
– Think about death or suicide
– Have difficulty concentrating
– Feel worthless or guilty
Depression can happen to anyone. Some parents worry that it’s their fault their teen is suffering from depression. However, it’s neither the parent’s nor the child’s fault. Some experiences may make it more likely that a teen will develop depression, for instance:
– Dealing with a big loss, like a death or divorce in the family
– Living with someone who is depressed
– Having another mental health problem, like anxiety, conduct disorders (such as ADHD) or an eating disorder
– Feeling stressed at school or at home
– Being the victim of bullying
– Having a family history of depression
Talk with your teen about what he or she is experiencing. Studies have found that counseling and therapy can be effective treatments for teens suffering from depression, so contact Advance Counseling. We can work with your teen. Youth are more likely to respond to treatment early on in their illness, so don’t ignore the warning signs if you think your teen may be struggling with depression.
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