News, Quakes and Stress

The series of Japanese earthquakes, riding piggy-back on the one in New Zealand, have left the world reeling and struggling to come to terms with a wide range of emotions.

The barrage of news from a variety of sources, Twitter updates, and on-going discussions, seemingly with little resolution, has driven stress levels up. Way up.

In disaster areas, healing begins right from the time people pitch in to assist with rescue efforts. Unfortunately, when you're so far away, there's little you can do physically, which may leave you feeling powerless and overwhelmed.

Here are some ideas to help you manage your stress so you can feel more proactive in these uncertain times:

  1. The Red Cross, with it's long history of disaster and relief work, is accepting donations. Any amount will help. Here is a link to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
  2. Consider restricting the amount of news you watch. Read the news as an alternative.
  3. Children, who don't yet have the maturity to adequately process these worldly events, are also impacted. On-going television broadcasts, overheard conversations and rumours at school all feed their imaginations and as a result, their fears. You know your children best. Trust yourself to recognize the signs indicating that they are being negatively affected by these reports.
  4. Often, the news doesn't change much from hour to hour, so consider placing limits on viewing time. Afterwards, do a debriefing. This site provides you with some tips on how to do this.
  5. Be proactive and work together with your family to develop and practice an emergency plan. Check out this resource from the Canadian government.
  6. Although her focus is on the Pacific Northwest, the information that Carol Dunn has diligently compiled on 2resilience will assist and empower you with an excellent range of resources that cover all types of emergencies.
  7. Assuage some of your own pain by showering the people of these areas with love and compassion. I don't know if they can feel it, but there have been studies showing the benefits of positive thoughts, energies, vibes and prayers. Even if you don't believe in it, why not try it? It costs nothing except some time. Besides, it can't hurt and it may very well help.
  8. Ensure that you take breaks from the news. Reset your nervous system. Lose yourself in an activity you enjoy - a movie, exercise, a meal or a visit with a friend. You all know that the situation is critical, but immersing yourself in constant worry and fear will activate the stress response, creating more of those feelings you don't want. Do what you can from where you are (see 1 to 7), and then look after yourself, even if it is a minute at a time. Minutes do add up.

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