Caring for yourself and others affected by bushfire

January 13, 2020

The devastation caused by a bushfire can lead to a range of thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours that can be intense and confusing. It is not unusual to experience overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, shame or anger.

Recovery after trauma doesn’t mean forgetting your experience or feeling no emotional pain when remembering it. Recovery means becoming less distressed and having more confidence in your ability to cope, as time goes on.

Generally, these feelings will resolve on their own, and with the support of family and friends, you will recover. This information will provide you with some ideas to help you manage in the days and weeks after a trauma. Even if you don’t feel like it, try some of these tips, which may help you to come to terms with the traumatic event you experienced, and reduce some of the distress associated with it:

  • Try to re-establish your sleep routine and prioritise rest
  • Limit viewing of photos and video footage of the bushfire. Images and content on the news and social media can be very overwhelming
  • Do things that help you relax such as meditation, prayer, mindfulness, exercise such as walking or swimming, taking part in hobbies or interests
  • Spend time with people who care about you and connect with loved ones
  • Find out about the impact of trauma and what to expect
  • Be patient and understanding with yourself and others on the journey of recovery
  • Limit consumption of drugs, alcohol and caffeine
  • Talk to a psychologist or counsellor about how you feel about what happened, when you are ready
  • Acknowledge your efforts and steps taken to recover
  • Be prepared for times when you feel you are making no progress, everyone experiences this.

We encourage you to seek further support if needed. To talk to a CatholicCare trauma counsel- lor over the phone or book a face-to-face meeting, phone 02 42 549 395 (lines are open Mon to Fri 9am – 5pm) or email [email protected].

Outside of business hours you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (available 24/7) or, if you don’t want

to talk, text with them nightly on 0477 13 11 14 (Lifeline Text is available 6pm to midnight AEDT).

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