07 Jan Bushfire Support
Have you been affected by the Australian bushfire crisis? You are not alone. The country is coping with the most devastating fire season and we want to make sure you have the resources to support not only your physical safety but your psychological safety too.
After a traumatic event such as a bushfire or other natural disaster, the world can feel unpredictable and unsafe.
Common experiences include:
Shock Fear Sadness Helplessness Fatigue Guilt Anger
Trouble sleeping Pulling away from relationships
These are normal, healthy reactions. For many of us, these experiences last days or a few weeks. But if these symptoms persist for much longer, this can be a sign that you might need extra support.
If you experience any of these things, it might be time to seek professional help:
Distressing images or thoughts pop into your mind at unwanted times which start to impact everyday life
Thoughts of suicide or frequent thoughts of dying
Loss of hope or interest in the future
Frequent nightmares or unsatisfying sleep
Being easily startled and taking a long time to calm down
Panic attack symptoms including increased heart rate, rapid breathing, dizziness, shakiness, choking sensations
Actively avoiding people, places, or thoughts that remind you of the traumatic event
Here are some ways to support yourself:
Find people who will understand what you’re going through and talk about how you feel – with friends, family or with a professional – bottling up emotions is usually not helpful
Find time to spend with people who “fill up your cup” even if you don’t want to talk about your experiences
Journal about your experiences if talking to others doesn’t feel right
Take it easy – limit additional commitments, set personal and professional boundaries for yourself by saying “no” to extra activities, and give yourself the time to rest and recuperate by doing relaxing things like taking a hot bath, going for walks, yoga, meditation, crafting, sport, etc.
Avoid making major life decisions at this time
Look after your sleep, exercise, and diet – limit foods that can “slow you down” or “amp you up” like excessive alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, or fried foods, and try setting a regular routine to help promote daily exercise and regular sleep
Limit media coverage of the disaster – it’s important to stay informed and safe, but viewing constantly updated information and images might serve to prolong the feelings of sadness, fear, or anger. Find someone who can update you on the important information so that you don’t have to expose yourself to it
Here are some additional resources:
VicEmergency is the official Victorian Government Smartphone app for information and warnings around Victoria. Make sure you have downloaded it to your phone and stay safe.
Phoenix Australia: Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health which includes a short video about how trauma impacts us and strategies to help yourself and others including children and teens after disasters, plus information about and research on professional treatment options
Australian National University’s website for strategies to support young people cope with disasters
Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement to find grief and loss support groups near you
GriefLine, free online and telephone counselling for grief and loss support, 7 days a week from 12 pm to 3 am – visit their website or call 1300 845 745
If you feel that you are in need of additional support and would like to book an appointment with a professional, please get in touch with us at 1300 784 184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to help.
By: Dr. Elizabeth Landau