It’s normal to feel tense after a disaster. There’s no easy solution for coping, but taking the time to calm yourself with relaxation exercises can help you get through the day. You can meditate, stretch, swim, pray, listen to music, spend time in nature, and so on. Here’s a quick breathing exercise that helps, too:
• Take a slow breath in through your nose (for about 4 seconds)
• Hold your breath for 1 or 2 seconds
• Exhale slowly through your mouth (over about 4 seconds)
• Wait 2-3 seconds before taking another breath
• Repeat for at least 5-10 breaths
Here are a few tips for helping children cope more long-term:
• Give them extra time and attention — Kids need attention to know they’re safe. Talk, play, and, most importantly, listen.
• Limit TV time — While it’s important for adults to stay informed about the disaster, TV images and reports may be confusing and frightening for children.
• Watch your own behavior — Make a point of being sensitive to those impacted by the disaster. This is an opportunity to teach your kids that we all need to help each other.
• Help your children return to a normal routine — Children usually benefit from routine activities such as set eating times, bedtime, and playing with others.
• Involve kids in volunteer work — Helping others can give children a sense of control and security.
A Calming Kit can temporarily soothe children in tough situations. (Children should have a small go-bag at school as well.)
Items to include are:
• Small chalkboard or Etch A Sketch
• Play-Doh or Silly Putty
• Scratch-and-sniff stickers
• Snow globe
• Noise-canceling headphones
• Small blanket
• Family photo