Disaster can come in any form and do more than just physical harm. It can shatter your sense of safety and stability. A feeling of hopelessness and despair can be more prominent when a disaster happens as you are going about your daily activities, making it even more difficult to get past that sense of unease and shock. These initial reactions to a traumatic event can really take hold if you let them.
At times like these, it's easy to feel a sense of anxiety, disturbance and even panic about our lives, our financial situations and our family. If this lasts long enough, we can lose the sense of what it felt like when times were easier, and we find ourselves drifting away from our friends and family. Surviving extends beyond the physical state. It's more than simply finding a good emergency radio or an emergency water supply. Survival also involves our mental capacity that drives us forward to do what needs to be done. Having a strong mental urge to survive comes in handy whether you get lost hiking across Europe or experience an environmental disaster. So, what does the strong survivor do differently, mentally, than others do?
Survivors overcome guilt. This seems like an odd thing to say. You may think that being a survivor is a good thing and you shouldn't feel guilty about it, but for some, it is quite common. Warriors of the past, military personnel and people who have survived great environmental calamities have perceived themselves as wrong doers since they survived and others didn't. Survivor's Guilt, or Survivor Syndrome, occurs when those who prevail blame themselves for the deaths of those they know. With growing confidence, and with some therapy, it is possible to manage and overcome this grief, this guilt. It takes time, but mentally overcoming the blame you may put on yourself will help you move forward.
"Never say 'but'" sounds like something you may hear at a positivity convention, yet it does work in every aspect of life. Removing the "but" from your vocabulary gives you a more direct approach to decisions you make. It allows you to "take the bull by the horns" and be more aggressive in dealing with what life throws your direction.
Do NOT Avoid Fun
Finding fun activities to do after a calamity can be a difficult task, but they are there. If you have experienced environmental hazards, help clean up the community. Assisting others will give you a sense of accomplishment and let you forget about the guilt or sorrow you have experienced. Even if you are surviving something less substantial, going out is a good way to rejuvenate and awaken your system. After trauma, you may need to re-learn how to relax.
Remember it's all Going to Be OK
People with a survivor's mentality continually reassure themselves about the situation. Tell yourself it's going to be all right and focus on the quality of life. Sometimes, we may have to live with less, but it's not the end. Remind yourself that you can handle change, as you always have before. It never hurts to comfort yourself once in a while.
These little nuggets of advice don't come from a psychology book but from everyday occurrences that can happen to anyone at any time. No one expects you to be perfect in a time of when your main focus is survival. Whether you are cleaning up post-hurricane or just lost in the woods of Montana, keeping a calm mind will eventually lead you down the path to overcoming the current situation you are experiencing.