Sonoma County Office of Education

SCOE Employee Center

Coping with disaster-related stress

10/30/2017 -

You may be experiencing stress or anxiety after the wildfire, even if it seems you and your family weren't directly impacted. Here are some tips for addressing these feelings, adapted from information by Sutter Care at Home Hospice.

If you were spared from the fire’s path, it can feel like you don’t have the right to be feeling as distressed as you are. This survivors’ guilt is natural, but not very helpful. Please allow yourself to feel whatever comes up.

Remember that we have all been impacted by the fires. We all felt the hypervigilance and the worry that the wind would shift and move the fire in our direction. We all felt the vulnerability that comes with having a disaster occur so close to home. We all felt worried for family or friends or acquaintances. We are all exposed to tragic stories of what has happened to others, and feel the vicarious trauma of that. We all feel the disruption of our daily lives. We are all impacted by the devastation to our community.

You may be feeling “spacy” or are much less organized and forgetful. This will pass naturally as we move through this process. Give yourself more time than usual to accomplish everyday tasks. Be kind to yourself, and don’t expect that you will be as productive as usual. Drink plenty of water, dehydration makes things worse, and remember to eat healthy foods. And be careful driving!

Feelings of depression or feeling “shut down,” and exhaustion may be setting in. If that is the case, please find the time to just “veg out.” Mindless television or whatever other activity that allows you to not think or feel can be therapeutic, and gives your psyche time to “recharge.” Be careful with alcohol use—remember it is a depressant. Sleep is the most healing thing you can do for yourself right now. You may be sleeping much more than usual. Think about going to bed earlier than usual. If you are having trouble sleeping, think about seeing your doctor for advice.

Please listen to your body. It will tell you what you need. It is important to take the time to focus on your needs.

Support is here for you. It is important when trauma has occurred to talk about your experience over and over. Please reach out to your supervisor if you feel you could use additional support.