Tips for coping with a disaster

Adrenaline, and looking after ourselves

Going through a disaster takes a toll on all of us and coping is not always easy. Good mental health helps us carry on and deal with all that life throws at us.

During earthquakes and other scary or surprising events, our brains react chemically – releasing adrenaline. 

This response is our natural alarm system – our body telling us to be alert and ready for action. It's there to help us, but afterwards we can feel shaky, queasy or on-edge, and it can make it hard for us to concentrate. It can also result in strong emotional responses such as anger or crying.

This is normal and we can help ease these affects to settle by doing some light physical activity, taking up a small chore or task and by focusing on some calm breathing for 10 seconds. 

Practical things to try

Following the November 2016 earthquake sequence, All Right? developed these practical tips for coping with a disaster.

Postcards containing these tips can be ordered here.

Useful resources

We all need a bit of support from time-to-time and if you or someone you know is struggling, there is free help available. Free call or text 1737 any time, 24 hours a day. You can also call Lifeline on 0800 543354 or text HELP – 4357.

The Ministry of Health have also developed factsheets to help with:

  • understanding emotional reactions to a crisis
  • learning positive ways of coping
  • identifying when to get extra help..

Natural disaster information and support is also detailed:

The Canterbury District Health Board have also compiled a range of useful resources especially for those affected by the November 2016 series of earthquakes. 

Ka pakeke te haere, kaua e hemo
Things may be difficult but don’t give up

International research suggests that psychosocial recovery after a disaster can take five to ten years, so it’s vital we take care of ourselves and each other. When times are tough, the little things we do can make a big difference.