How to prepare emotionally and psychologically for disaster


Today’s emergency preparedness experts finally combine their work with mental health. This can be as simple as practicing empathy. Jessica Wade, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Radiation Information and Outreach, said: “Sometimes it is difficult for scientists to be empathetic, but if you don’t understand the audience’s feelings and values, you can’t be a good communicator. “. Wieder is part of a team that carefully studied more than 12,000 news and social media posts about Covid testing and vaccines to better understand how the public internalizes and responds to urgent suggestions. Their research hopes to provide insights on how people respond to future disasters, especially intangible threats (such as viruses or radiation) or chronic events (deteriorating droughts or hurricanes that last longer). Climate crisis).

The truth is that there is no balm, amulet, or unique suggestion that can protect us from the dark emotions that swell in our hearts when disaster strikes. However, we may find the ease, clarity and courage to move forward. Here are some suggestions from experts to help get through mood swings:

There is no “right” response or recovery method

Disaster pulls the normal from us, and everyone has a unique way to find a foothold in the rubble.It’s impossible to attribute a particular traumatic event to an emotional response because All reactions are manifestations of fearSilver’s research has found that some people experience debilitating pain even if they have not experienced the disaster directly. Therefore, Wieder emphasizes the importance of verifying emotions-the emotions of friends and family, and our own emotions-even if we think they are not in line with the situation. Generally speaking, people are bad at assessing risks, and when their perceptions of the situation do not match, talking with others can lead to controversy. Recognizing that all emotions are normal can improve communication and decision-making, and create common ground. (Scientists find a feeling of being understood Activate Neural reactions related to social rewards. ) Maria Cohut, a Medical news today Contributor Wrote about Build resilience, It is also recommended to use disaster recovery as Transformation Rather than “rebound,” the latter encourages people to embrace new possibilities instead of worrying about reaching a certain standard of cure.

Disaster is a Process, So looking forward to updates

Emergency situations do not have a neat ending; information changes over time. Most people feel uncomfortable with the constantly changing state and suspect that they do not provide closed information. Madeline Beal, EPA’s senior risk communicator, said the ever-changing guidelines show that experts are applying what they have learned as quickly as possible. “Disaster is a process. People don’t like the idea of ​​science changing, but this should be expected,” she said. Communication experts have also found that people’s reactions to constructing new information as “updates” are more positive because it implies real-time context and is not inconsistent with existing knowledge. Remembering that change is part of the experience can help you control your anxiety.

Know your trusted voice

In an emergency, we will naturally seek expert guidance. Although central authorities—such as FEMA or CDC in the United States—can obtain reliable resources for large-scale emergencies, they are not necessarily the most effective messengers. “The reality is that people can decide who is credible to them,” explains Christine Carr, a professor of political psychology at Stevens Institute of Technology who specializes in risk communication. “For some people, neighbors are more trustworthy than the government. As disasters become politicized, it becomes harder to find a shared messenger that everyone is willing to listen to.”

Disaster planners working with state and local authorities are now working more closely with community organizers and emissaries such as faith leaders who have gained local trust. But most people don’t realize who they think the believable voice is and why they trust them (this is usually intuitive, not a deliberate decision) to track inconsistencies or differences in their messaging.

Help others

It is easy to assume that disasters will trigger anti-social, selfish behaviors, leading to social chaos and more destruction.However research Always show People showed greater generosity and pro-social behavior during and immediately after the disaster.Helping in a disaster can improve Sense of control And increase happiness. In addition to joining groups of spontaneous volunteers, you can also consider how to help solve social inequality in emergency response.Black, Latino, and brown people are Unlikely Receiving disaster assistance, the rise of informal mutual aid networks, and local translation work provide another way to show up.

Plan ahead

Covid-19 has revived interest in disaster preparedness. According to the 2021 FEMA Household Survey, 48% of Americans It is said that an emergency plan has been made, which is a slight increase from the previous year. Nevertheless, many people will still find this task daunting. “Disasters are in the same category as funerals and living wills—not interesting to think about,” Carl admitted. Wieder recommends starting with simpler logistical tasks, such as determining an emergency meeting location other than home; studying how to care for pets (many people risk their lives to find their pets or refuse to leave them behind); buying a hand-cranked radio In case of power outages; and identify a joint contact person to provide you with the latest information about other family members and friends if you cannot directly contact each other. Regardless of the situation, the plan will give you a sense of readiness.We have a guide Emergency preparedness equipment is here.

Today, I am more composed than a year ago, but as our journey to hell continues, I am still preparing for what might happen: a new Covid variant, or the next California fire Already expected To break last year’s record. Fear and sadness are still with me, but I also find that these difficult feelings contain tenderness and toughness. I move forward, more adapt to my body and mind, and more prepared for what is coming. I hope all of us do the same.


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