by Sheli Ellsworth
Losing a home by fire is not only the destruction of personal possessions, heirlooms and important documents, it is the loss of comfort and safety. Suddenly, small things—once taken for granted—become time-sucking inconveniences. Tweezers, can-openers and medicines can be replaced, but it takes time, energy, lists and attention to the million thoughts fighting for dominance in a too-stressed brain.
According to the American Psychological Association, homeowners can experience shock, anger, depression and hopelessness after a fire. Eventually, acceptance and a focus on the future are followed by a return to safety and security. But how do you get through another day? And what about the one after that?
The APA has some suggestions for dealing with stress after such a devastating loss.
- Try to continue your fitness routine. Exercise, yoga, meditation and deep breathing are all proven stress reducers.
- Give yourself permission to feel bad: cry, beat a pillow, scream in a closet.
- It’s okay to laugh. Even when life sucks, things can be funny. Embrace periods of joy.
- Make small decisions when the big ones are out of your control.
- Avoid major decisions like changing jobs and getting a divorce.
- Lower expectations. You aren’t a superhero. Do what you can. The rest will wait.
- Socialize. Spending time with others is one path to recovery.
- It is okay to talk about it. Get it out.
- Take advantage of community support. It is not a sign of weakness.
- Everyday think of something you are grateful for, even the small things.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol when your decision-making skills are already taxed.
- Sleep and wake as close to your normal cycle as possible.
- Don’t skip meals. Eat regular, well-balanced meals. Food tells us we will survive.
- Find a routine. Even when nothing is routine, children especially need a certain pattern of behavior. Even simple things like going to school and visiting friends can be soothing.