Self-care tips to use
Normal Reactions to a Disaster Event:
- No one who responds to a mass-casualty event is untouched by it.
- Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
- You may not want to leave the scene until the work is finished.
- You likely will try to override stress and fatigue with dedication and commitment.
- You may deny the need for rest and recovery time.
Signs That You May Need Stress Management Assistance:
- difficulty communicating thoughts;
- difficulty remembering instructions;
- difficulty maintaining balance;
- uncharacteristically argumentative;
- difficulty making decisions;
- limited attention span;
- unnecessary risk-taking;
- tunnel vision/muffled hearing;
- colds or flu-like symptoms;
- disorientation or confusion;
- difficulty concentrating;
- loss of objectivity;
- easily frustrated;
- unable to engage in problem-solving;
- unable to let down when off duty
- refusal to follow orders;
- refusal to leave the scene;
- increased use of drugs/alcohol;
- unusual clumsiness.
Ways to Help Manage Your Stress:
- Limit on-duty work hours to no more than 12 hours per day.
- Make work rotations from high-stress to lower-stress functions.
- Make work rotations from the scene to routine assignments, as practical.
- Use counseling assistance programs available through your agency.
- Drink plenty of water and eat healthy snacks such as fresh fruit and whole grain breads and other energy foods at the scene.
- Take frequent, brief breaks from the scene as practicable.
- Talk about your emotions to process what you have seen and done.
- Stay in touch with your family and friends.
- Participate in memorials, rituals, and use of symbols as a way to express feelings.
- Pair up with another responder so that you may monitor one another’s stress.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Knowledge Exchange Network, Rockville, MD.