Psychological self care after disaster


Provider Self-Care Activities that promote self-care include:
Managing personal resources Planning for family/home safety, including making child care and pet care plans Getting adequate exercise, nutrition, and relaxation Using stress management tools regularly, such as
Accessing supervision routinely to share concerns, identifying difficult experiences, and strategizing to solve problems Practicing brief relaxation techniques during the workday Using the buddy system to share upsetting emotional responses Staying aware of limitations and needs Recognizing when one is Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT), and taking the appropriate self-care measures Increasing activities that are positive Practicing religious faith, philosophy, and spirituality Spending time with family and friends Learning how to “put stress away” Writing, drawing, and painting Limiting caffeine, tobacco, and substance use As much as possible, you should make every effort to:
Self-monitor and pace your efforts Maintain boundaries: delegate, say no, and avoid working with too many survivors in a given shift
Perform regular check-ins with colleagues, family, and friends
Work with partners or in teams
Take relaxation/stress management/bodily care/refreshment breaks
Utilize regular peer consultation and supervision
Try to be flexible, patient, and tolerant
Accept that you cannot change everything
You should avoid engaging in:
Extended periods of solo work without colleagues
Working “round the clock” with few breaks
Negative self-talk that reinforces feelings of inadequacy or incompetency
Excessive use of food/substances as a support
Common attitudinal obstacles to self-care:
“It would be selfish to take time to rest.”
“Others are working around the clock, so should I.”
“The needs of survivors are more important than the needs of helpers.”
“I can contribute the most by working all the time.”
“Only I can do x, y, and z.”
After Relief Work Expect a readjustment period upon returning home. You may need to make personal
reintegration a priority for a while.
Organizational Care of Providers Organizations should:
Encourage time off for providers who have experienced personal trauma or loss. Institute exit interviews to help providers with their experience–this should include information about how to communicate with their families about their work. Encourage providers to seek counseling when needed, and provide referral information. Provide education on stress management. Facilitate ways providers can communicate with each other by establishing listservs, sharing contact information, or scheduling conference calls. Provide information regarding positive aspects of the work.
Provider Self-Care Make every effort to:
Seek out and give social support.
Check in with other relief colleagues to discuss relief work.
Increase collegial support.
Schedule time for a vacation or gradual reintegration into normal life.
Prepare for worldview changes that may not be mirrored by others in your life.
Participate in formal help to address your response to relief work if extreme stress
persists for greater than two to three weeks. Increase leisure activities, stress management, and exercise. Pay extra attention to health and nutrition. Pay extra attention to rekindling close interpersonal relationships. Practice good sleep routines. Make time for self-reflection. Practice receiving from others. Find activities that you enjoy or that make you laugh. Try at times not to be in charge or the “expert.” Increase experiences that have spiritual or philosophical meaning to you. Anticipate that you will experience recurring thoughts or dreams, and that they will decrease over time. Keep a journal to get worries off your mind. Ask help in parenting if you feel irritable or are having difficulties adjusting to being back at home. Make every effort to avoid:
Excessive use of alcohol, illicit drugs, or excessive amounts of prescription drugs. Making any big life changes for at least a month. Negatively assessing your contribution to relief work. Worrying about readjusting.

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