When Major Events Happen

Surviving and living through traumatic situations, tragedies or natural disasters can be psychologically challenging. There is disruption, uncertainty and stress, and everyone handles it differently. Although many thoughts, feelings, behaviors and physical reactions can be very upsetting, it’s important to remember that they are common reactions to an extraordinary and stressful circumstance. It is normal to experience intense feelings and reactions during times of heightened stress. They are signs of an overwhelming situation, not of personal weakness.

Find Family Support Below For
School Shootings/Mass Violence & Natural Disasters,
& Self Care Information for First Responders

School Shootings or Mass Violence

Violence is all around these days – in the media, in our communities and even in our schools.  Our kids are exposed to situations, images and stories that are unavoidable and can be very frightening.  The days, weeks and months following can be very stressful.

Your children and family will recover over time, especially with the support of relatives, friends and the community.  But families and kids may have had different experiences during and after the shooting or violence, including those who may have experienced physical injury, were involved in the police investigation, worried about the safety of family and friends, and/or lost love ones.  How long it takes to recover will depend upon what happened to you and your family during and after the event.  Over time, some will return to normal routines, while others may struggle. Children and teens react differently depending on age and prior experience.  Expect that youth may respond in different ways and we supportive and understanding of different reactions even when you are having your own reactions and difficulties.

Supporting Children In The Aftermath Of A School Shooting Or Mass Violence

Children’s responses to trauma vary according to their age. Generally, children respond by reverting to behavior typical of an earlier developmental stage. It is important to recognize some changes are considered ‘normal’ if they are brief (less than three weeks) in duration. If symptoms continue, you may consider seeking help.

Age
Common Reactions
Helpful Hints
.
1-4 years
  • Bed-wetting
  • Fear of darkness or being left alone
  • Excessive clinging
  • Nightmares
  • Crying
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Speech difficulties
  • Immobility
  • Confusion
  • Disobedience
  • Provide calming words & physical comforting
  • Give frequent attention
  • Establish comforting bedtime routines
  • Encourage expression through re-enactment
.
5-11 years
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Irritability, whining
  • Clinging
  • Nightmares or fear of darkness
  • Aggression, competition for attention
    at school or home
  • Withdrawal from peers
  • Loss of interest, poor concentration
  • Headaches or other physical complaints
  • Patience & tolerance
  • Play sessions with adults & peers
  • Discussions with adults & peers
  • Slightly relaxed expectations temporarily
  • Opportunities for structured but not demanding chores
    & responsibilities
  • Rehearse safety measures
.
12-17 years
  • Running away
  • Stealing
  • Sleeplessness
  • Difficulties with school or relationships
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Inattentiveness or confusion
  • Aggressiveness, irritability
  • Radical changes in attitude
  • Premature entrance into adulthood
  • Monitor media exposure
  • Spend time as a family talking about how everyone is
    feeling/doing
  • Bring friends & families together
  • Encourage constructive activities
  • Encourage postponing major life decisions
  • Explain that strains on relationships & changes in attitude
    are common but bounce back over time
.
Helping Your Family Cope
  • Spend time being available to talk with your children.
  • Really listen. Listen twice as much as you talk, be aware of what their concerns might be, give clear, simple answers.
    If you don’t know the answer to a question it’s OK to say that.
  • Ask them what they already know.
  • Encourage children to talk about their feelings, worries, daydreams and distractions. Accept the feelings they share, listen carefully and remind them that these are normal reactions following a very scary event.
  • Provide information in a simple, clear and age-appropriate manner. Answer questions without giving more information than is necessary.
  • Help your children feel safe. Talk with them about their concerns over safety. Remind them of ways you keep them  safe.
    Go over your family’s communication plan and practice phone numbers.
  • Limit media exposure. Protect them from too much media coverage. Explain that TV, radio, the internet and social media can spread rumors and trigger fears.
  • Maintain reasonable expectations or ‘rules’. Stick with family rules, such as bedtimes, curfews, checking in with you while with friends, and keeping up with homework and chores. Staying in familiar routines as best as possible is reassuring.
  • Address ‘acting out’ behaviors. Help them understand that acting out behaviors are a dangerous way to express strong feelings like anger and grief. Talk about other ways of coping with these feelings, such as fun activities, exercise, writing in a journal, spending time with family and friends.
  • Be patient. It is normal for everyone to have a stress response to any potential threat in the environment. This can lead to a lack of patience.
    Remember, your loved one is not your enemy.

More Support for School Shootings / Mass Violence

Coping Tips for Teens

Mass violence incidents, where several people are injured and killed, affect everyone in the community. Coping with mass violence can be very stressful. Over time, most people begin to feel better and return to normal routines, but knowing about the impact of mass violence can help you take care of yourself and others. Here are some common reactions to mass violence:

Feeling afraid or unsafe:

Mass violence is shocking and can make you fear for your safety. If the people at the event or those who were killed were doing things that you often do, in places you might have been, it can contribute to your fear, anxiety, and feelings of not being safe. You may believe that feeling afraid is childish, but fear and not feeling safe are common reactions after mass violence. Know that people in the community, including first responders, school staff, parents, and other caring adults are working to improve your safety and the safety of your community. As a teen, you can have an important voice in these efforts, too. For example, you can advocate for measures that you believe will make you and your community safer, or lend your voice to existing groups that have similar goals.

Having trouble getting back to your normal routines and feelings:

After mass violence, many teens will experience some of these reactions even if they aren’t talking about them:

    • Not being able to fall or stay asleep, not getting restful sleep, having nightmares
    • Having trouble concentrating and paying attention at school or work, not getting anything done, feeling in a fog or dazed
    • Feeling sad, angry, confused, or afraid that the mass violence will happen again
    • Feeling isolated, or numb, like friends and family don’t understand, or feeling distant from them
    • Being unable to get rid of thoughts, images, or visions of the mass violence event
    • Not caring about things that used to matter or were important
    • Experiencing headaches, stomachaches, a racing heart, or a change in appetite
    • Having sights, sounds, people, places, or other things remind you of the violence
    • Feeling jumpy, irritable, or on guard for danger all or nearly all of the time
Worrying about family and loved ones:

As a teen, you are becoming more independent and developing your own values and interests. After mass violence, you may find yourself worrying about your family in new ways, or your worries may have intensified. For example, you may suddenly be much more aware of the impact of these events on elderly relatives or younger siblings and be more protective or concerned for their well-being. If you sense that your parents or caregivers are very distressed about what happened, you might not talk to them about your own feelings because you do not want to further upset them. It can be very helpful to identify a trusted adult to talk to about your thoughts, feelings, and reactions related to the mass violence so that you are not alone with your experiences.

Making everyday issues worse:

Teens face many challenges, like adjusting to middle or high school, meeting academic expectations, balancing athletics or other activities or job responsibilities, planning for college, dealing with peer pressure, or managing problems at home or in your personal life. You may think that your problems are small compared to mass violence. However, going through this experience can magnify the daily issues that you were already dealing with, and make them feel much worse than before. This may be especially true if you experienced a trauma prior to the mass violence, if you had depression or anxiety in the past, or if you are currently involved in counseling services.

Impacting identity issues:

As a teen, you may be learning more about yourself and what it means to identify with a sexual orientation, gender, religion, ethnicity, race, or political affiliation. If the mass violence targeted a group that you identify with, this may cause you to have especially strong emotions. You may feel a heightened level of threat, fear, or lack of safety. This also may in-crease your sense of feeling isolated or cut off from your peers, family, or wider community. In many cases, communities respond to mass violence by coming together to support those involved and who died, as well as each other. Hopefully this will provide you with a sense of support, acceptance, and safety as you explore your identity.

Searching for meaning:

It is difficult to understand why a person would intentionally hurt and kill others. This can challenge your trust in other people, your religious beliefs, or the ways you think about or view the world. Searching for meaning in the face of hate is extremely challenging. Reading and talking to friends, family members, teachers, and faith leaders can help you formulate your own ideas about why terrible things happen.

If you or someone you know lost a loved one, you may experience additional grief reactions.
Each person grieves differently, and there is no one “correct” way of grieving.

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

Limit Media and Social Media Exposure:

After mass violence, media and social media coverage is constant. You may be tempted to stay glued to your phone, but this can cause even more distress. Try to disconnect from the news and social media at least for several hours every day. If watching TV or being on your phone helps you to cope, turn on a movie, watch a channel that doesn’t have news alerts, or play a game.

Practice Healthy Habits:

This is a good time to establish a daily schedule that includes eating regular, healthy meals and snacks, exercising, and trying to get as close to a full night of sleep as possible. Turning off electronics at night will help you accomplish this.

Have Fun:

It’s okay to disengage from tragedy. Give yourself permission to have fun. Consider doing something you really enjoy every day such as going for a walk, writing/journaling, creating art, listening to music, being with friends, spending time with your pets, or engaging in other relaxing activities.

Connect with Others:

Spend time with your family, friends, and other people who make you feel more relaxed. Don’t cut yourself off from loved ones. Find a way to help others through volunteering, tutoring, or other community activities. Finding ways to connect with others often leads to feeling better. If you are worried about how a peer is coping, check in with them, and let a trusted adult know.

Seek help:

If you want to talk to someone, ask your parent or other caring adult, school counselor or nurse, or primary care provider for help. Your community may have drop-in centers specifically for this purpose. Most of these issues resolve with time, but if they continue, don’t hesitate to seek additional or specialized counseling services.

This information courtesy of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, www.NCTSN.org.  The project was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA),
US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.

More Support for School Shootings / Mass Violence

Things You can do to Support Yourself

Recovering from the emotional effects of an event can take a long time but you can take steps to begin the healing.

    • Remind yourself that you are having normal reactions. Give yourself a break, be kind to yourself.
    • When you can, allow yourself to feel sadness & grief over what has happened. Give yourself permission to feel depressed or overwhelmed. Talking to others about how you are feeling is important.
    • Try to keep daily decisions & family routines (like mealtimes) in place if possible, structure your time. This helps in feeling there is still a sense of control and order to your life.
    • Alcohol and drug usage does not help in the long run. Try to limit your intake.
    • Practice healthy habits like eating well and getting enough sleep, both very important in times of high stress. Relax and do things you enjoy, exercise moderately.
    • Don’t let yourself become isolated. Maintain connections with your friends, relatives and community. Talk about your experiences with them.
    • Try to focus on the positive. There are caring people and acts of kindness all around us.
    • Forgive yourself and others when you act out because of stress. This is a difficult time and everyone’s emotions are closer to the surface. Do not let your stress become an excuse for child or spouse abuse.
    • Avoid making big life decisions for a few months.

More Support for School Shootings / Mass Violence

Natural Disasters

Help Kids Cope Mobile App

Wildfires. Winter Storms. Floods.  Landslides.  Tornadoes.  Extreme Heat.  Earthquakes.

IS YOUR FAMILY READY FOR THE NEXT DISASTER?

With HELP KIDS COPE:

  • Learn what to do Before, During, and After ten disaster types
  • Know what to say “in the moment” to help calm and support your kids of all ages
  • Hear audio clips of other parents’ experiences
  • Understand how kids commonly respond during and after disasters
  • Use the checklists to prepare your entire family before disasters
  • Explain different disasters to your kids using age-appropriate language
  • Find tips on caring for yourself—as you care for your family
  • Connect to activities, children’s books, tip sheets, and more!

HELP KIDS COPE by UCLA is FREE from Google Play and iTunes and now available for Android and Apple devices.
For iPad users:  tap on the ‘iPad Only’ drop-down menu and select ‘iPhone Only’ from the menu to view the app.

Supporting Your Family in the Event of a Wildfire

Wildfires cause emotional distress as well as physical damage. People may fear that their loved ones will be killed or injured. Separation from family members can occur, with hours or days passing before being reunited. Neighborhoods and communities may be called on to evacuate on short notice, forcing people to make important decisions in minutes – whether to evacuate, where to go, when to leave, and what to bring with them (including pets). People may live in shelters for days, not knowing if their homes and businesses have been saved or lost. Routine is disrupted and one’s sense of security is undermined. Families and communities should not underestimate the accumulative effects of evacuation, displacement, relocation and rebuilding.

In the aftermath & as the scope of the damage is known, families may learn of injuries to loved ones. The loss of homes, pets, livestock, and valuables, including sentimental items, will increase feelings of sadness and vulnerability. If a fire is found to have been set intentionally, people grapple with increased anger and blame. Like other traumatic events, wildfires will be particularly difficult for individuals with special needs.

Post-wildfire problems with housing, food, water, electricity, transportation, work, school, childcare, and daily routines can disrupt living for weeks or months. People suffer financial hardships when their homes, businesses or jobs are lost. Confusion can mount as they seek disaster assistance from local and federal agencies or their insurance companies. As a result, signs of stress may become evident even months after the fires.

Children’s reactions to the wildfires and their aftermath are strongly influenced by how their parents, teachers, and other caregivers cope during and after the events. They often turn to these adults for information, comfort and help. Below are common reactions parents may see in their children. These generally diminish with time, but knowing that these reactions are likely can help you be prepared to help your child.

Common Reactions
    • Feelings of anxiety, fear, and worry about safety of self and others (including pets):
    • Children may have increased fears and worries about separation from family members
    • Young children may become more clingy to parents, siblings or teachers
    • Fears of wildfires spreading or new ones starting
    • Distress and anxiety with reminders of the wildfires (e.g., burning smell, sounds of sirens or helicopters, burnt landscape and buildings)
    • Changes in behavior:
    • Increased activity level
    • Decreased concentration and attention
    • Increased irritability
    • Withdrawal
    • Angry outbursts
    • Aggression
    • Increased physical complaints (e.g., headaches, stomachaches, aches and pains)
    • Prolonged focus on the wildfires (e.g., talking repeatedly about it – young children may “play” the event) •Changes in sleep and appetite
    • Lack of interest in usual activities, including interest in playing with friends
    • Changes in school performance
    • Regressive behaviors in young children (e.g., baby talk, bedwetting, tantrums)
    • Increased chance of high-risk behaviors in adolescents (e.g., drinking, substance abuse, self-injurious behaviors)
How Can I Help My Child?
    • Spend time talking with your child. This will let your child know that it is OK to ask questions and to express their concerns. Because during and after wildfires includes constantly changing situations, children may have questions on more than one occasion. Issues may need to be discussed more than one time. You should remain flexible and open to answering repeated and new questions and providing clarifications. If you have to evacuate suddenly, tell your child briefly where you are going and that you will answer their questions once you get to safety.
    • Answer questions briefly and honestly, but also ask your children for their opinions and ideas about what is discussed. For younger children, try to follow wildfire conversations with a favorite story or a family activity to help them feel more safe and calm.
Things I can Do for Myself
    • Take care of yourself. Make sure you take good physical care of yourself, including eating well, sleeping well, getting exercise, and receiving proper medical care.
    • Listen to each other. Parents and other caregivers should provide support for each other during this time.
    • Put off major decisions. Avoid making any unnecessary life-altering decisions during this stressful post-wildfire period.
    • Give yourself a break. Try not to overdo clean-up activities. These activities may include lifting heavy items or working for extended periods of time. Using moderation when doing such work can reduce injury.
Things I Can Do for My Child
    • Be a role model. Changes in living conditions can be extremely stressful for children. They will take cues of how to handle situations from their parents. Modeling calm behaviors will be important during chaotic times.
    • Encourage your children. Help children help take care of themselves by encouraging them to get appropriate rest, exercise, and diet. Be sure there is a balance of quiet and physical activities.
    • Reassure children that they are safe or the plans you have for their safety. This may need to be repeated many times during and after a wildfire. You should spend extra time with your children and stay connected. It doesn’t matter whether it’s playing games, reading together, or just cuddling. Be sure to tell children they are loved.
    • Maintain routines. Even in the mist of chaos and change, children feel more safe and secure with structure and routine. As much as possible, stick to everyday routines (including mealtimes, bedtime, etc.).
    • Maintain expectations. Stick with family rules, such as rules about good behavior and respect for others.
    • Limit media exposure. It is important for you to protect your child from overexposure to sights and images of the wildfires, including those in newspapers, on the Internet, or on television.
    • Calm worries about friends’ safety. As phone service may be disrupted, communication will be difficult. Reassure your children that their friends’ parents are taking care of them just as they are being cared for by you.
    • Talk about community response and recovery. Reassure children about the work being done in their community to contain the wildfires (such as first responders protecting people, homes, pets, and wildlife), to restore electricity and water, to remove debris, and to help families find housing.
    • Encourage children to help. Children recover and cope better when they feel they are helping. Find opportunities in which they can contribute in the aftermath of the wildfire. Give small tasks related to clean-up or family activities. After children spend time in clean-up activities, provide activities that are not related to the wildfires. This may include playing a game, reading a book, playing cards, etc.
    • Be patient. Children may need a little extra patience and attention during these times. They may need added reminders or extra help with chores or homework once school is in session as they may be more distracted.
    • Give support at bedtime. Children may become anxious when they separate from their parents, in particular at bedtime. First try to spend more time with your child at bed time with such activities as reading a book. It’s okay to make a temporary arrangement for young children to sleep with you, but with the understanding that they will go back to normal sleeping arrangements at a set future date.
    • Monitor adult conversations. Be aware of what is being said during adult conversations about the wildfires and its aftermath. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened unnecessarily about something they do not understand.
    • Seek professional help. If children have difficulties for more than six weeks after the wildfires, parents should consult a mental health professional for an evaluation.
    • Keep things hopeful. Even in the most difficult situations, it is important to identify some positive aspect and to stay hopeful for the future. A positive and optimistic outlook helps children see the good things in the world around them. This outlook can be one way to help them get through even the most challenging times.

More Support for Natural Disasters

Supporting Your Family in the Event of a Flood or Flood Danger

Floods are the most common natural weather event and are temporary conditions when an area is overcome by water or mudflow.  Floods in our area can occur under many conditions including snowmelt, overflowing drainage systems and heavy rainfall.

Areas recovering from wildfire are often prone to flash flooding and debris flows, especially near steep terrain.  Rainfall that would normally be absorbed will run off extremely quickly after a wildfire as burned soil can be as water repellant as pavement and, as a result, much less rainfall is required to produce a flash flood.

Behavioral Signs that may indicate a child is reacting to the event:

Birth – 2 years:  Infants may react to trauma as a result of their parents’ anxiety and/or reaction.  This may include being irritable, crying more than usual or wanting to be cuddled.

Preschool:  Children at this age do not have the capacity to fully understand but may understand enough to feel helpless and overwhelmed.  They may feel fear and insecurity about being separated from caregivers.

Elementary School:  These children have a better ability to understand and sometimes become intensely preoccupied with the details of the event and want to talk more about it.  Other reactions may include sadness, generalized or specific fears about the event happening again.

Parents & caregivers can address children’s reactions during a flood by:
    • Model calm behavior.  Kids often mirror the reaction of adults around them and will learn ideas for how to take care of themselves from what parents and caregivers do. Provide simple and accurate information in a quiet, steady voice
    • Encourage comforting or distracting activities.  Children may benefit from doing slow breathing to calm their bodies, having a stuffed animal or blanket to hold or being distracted from the storm by dancing, singing of playing games.  Parents & caregivers should not force children to talk about what is happening.  Playing outside may not be safe.
    • Reaffirm safety.  Reassure kids that they are safe.  Remind them that they can always tell you when they are afraid in any situation.  Let them speak about the feelings and validate all reactions to the event.  Support the appropriate expression of their feelings and help to put them in perspective.
    • Observe emotional states. It may take time for the emotional impact to reach the child or adolescent.  When it does, provide nurturance (hugs, empathy, kindness, calm support) and ask about their thoughts and feelings.  Be prepared for children to need this several times.  Some will not express themselves verbally but changes in behavior, appetite or sleep patterns can indicate anxiety or stress.  Seek help from a mental health professional for those with more intense reactions.

More Support for Natural Disasters

Supporting Children In A Natural Disaster

Children’s responses to trauma vary according to their age. Generally, children respond by reverting to behavior typical of an earlier developmental stage. It is important to recognize some changes are considered ‘normal’ if they are brief (less than three weeks) in duration. If symptoms continue, you may consider seeking help.

Age
Common Reactions
Helpful Hints
.
1-4 years
  • Bed-wetting
  • Fear of darkness or being left alone
  • Excessive clinging
  • Nightmares
  • Crying
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Speech difficulties
  • Immobility
  • Confusion
  • Disobedience
  • Provide calming words & physical comforting
  • Give frequent attention
  • Establish comforting bedtime routines
  • Encourage expression through re-enactment
.
5-11 years
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Irritability, whining
  • Clinging
  • Nightmares or fear of darkness
  • Aggression, competition for attention
    at school or home
  • Withdrawal from peers
  • Loss of interest, poor concentration
  • Headaches or other physical complaints
  • Patience & tolerance
  • Play sessions with adults & peers
  • Discussions with adults & peers
  • Slightly relaxed expectations temporarily
  • Opportunities for structured but not demanding chores
    & responsibilities
  • Rehearse safety measures
.
12-17 years
  • Running away
  • Stealing
  • Sleeplessness
  • Difficulties with school or relationships
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Inattentiveness or confusion
  • Aggressiveness, irritability
  • Radical changes in attitude
  • Premature entrance into adulthood
  • Monitor media exposure
  • Spend time as a family talking about how everyone is
    feeling/doing
  • Bring friends & families together
  • Encourage constructive activities
  • Encourage postponing major life decisions
  • Explain that strains on relationships & changes in attitude
    are common but bounce back over time
.
Helping Your Family Cope
      • Spend time being available to talk with your children.
      • Really listen. Listen twice as much as you talk, be aware of what their concerns might be, give clear, simple answers.
        If you don’t know the answer to a question it’s OK to say that.
      • Ask them what they already know.
      • Encourage children to talk about their feelings, worries, daydreams and distractions. Accept the feelings they share, listen carefully and remind them that these are normal reactions following a very scary event.
      • Provide information in a simple, clear and age-appropriate manner. Answer questions without giving more information than is necessary.
      • Help your children feel safe. Talk with them about their concerns over safety. Remind them of ways you keep them  safe.
        Go over your family’s communication plan and practice phone numbers.
      • Limit media exposure. Protect them from too much media coverage. Explain that TV, radio, the internet and social media can spread rumors and trigger fears.
      • Maintain reasonable expectations or ‘rules’. Stick with family rules, such as bedtimes, curfews, checking in with you while with friends, and keeping up with homework and chores. Staying in familiar routines as best as possible is reassuring.
      • Address ‘acting out’ behaviors. Help them understand that acting out behaviors are a dangerous way to express strong feelings like anger and grief. Talk about other ways of coping with these feelings, such as fun activities, exercise, writing in a journal, spending time with family and friends.
      • Be patient. It is normal for everyone to have a stress response to any potential threat in the environment. This can lead to a lack of patience.
        Remember, your loved one is not your enemy.

More Support for Natural Disasters

Support for First Responders

The Effects of Disaster Response

Many responders work long hours and days at a time, overriding signs of stress and fatigue and finding themselves in the ‘fight’ response for the victims (think fight/flight/freeze/faint). Many deny that they themselves need rest or recovery time. This is untrue, we all are human.

Following major traumatic events, disaster responders have found themselves reacting in many of the same ways as the primary survivors. Some of the subsequent problems they have experienced include increased alcohol and drug use, increased sick time, changes in profession, burn out or increased domestic violence.

It’s important to acknowledge a few key points:
  • No one who responds to a disaster or mass casualty event is untouched by it.
  • Profound sadness, grief and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
  • We all have limitations.

Self-Care Tips for First Responders

Engage in Stress-reducing Techniques

Managing stress is an art form, especially for disaster response work. You must actively implement and practice those activities that help YOU.  Some Tips for Managing Stress:

    • Decrease caffeine & alcohol
    • Balance nutrition
    • Exercise
    • Increase sleep
    • Understand your limitations
    • Enjoy leisure time
    • Be realistic about expectations
    • Re-frame perceptions
    • Practice spirituality
    • Talk about the event, vent
    • Don’t forget about humor & positivity – laugh about it
    • Seek out Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) available to you through your employer and pace yourself for a marathon.
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/work as a distraction
Signs you May need to Take a Break

It’s extremely important that you care for yourself. Should you find yourself recognizing any of the following reactions in yourself or others, take action to support self-care and recovery.

    • Difficulties communicating thoughts
    • Difficulties remembering instructions
    • Difficulties maintaining balance, or unusual clumsiness
    • Uncharacteristically argumentative
    • Difficulties making decisions & problem-solving
    • Short attention span
    • Unnecessary risk-taking, including substance use
    • Difficulties sleeping
    • Increase or decrease in activity level, withdrawal
    • Irritability, anger and easily frustrated
    • Compassion stress: helplessness, confusion, isolation
    • Compassion fatigue: demoralization, alienation, resignation
    • Physical reactions (headache, nausea, easily startled)
    • Attempts to over-control in professional or personal situations, or act out a ‘rescuer complex’
    • Refusal to follow orders or leave the scene
Take Action

If any of the previous signs are experienced, it’s time to take action. Get yourself out of there. Someone else can do the job you are doing.

    • Take a lower stress work rotation, or return to a more routine work environment
    • Go home. Connect with the people you love and who love you.