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3 Simple Ways to Cope With Stress Due to Disaster Response

Trust us, these work better at lightening the mood than inappropriate jokes.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and several government officials drew flak after making sex jokes in a calamity response meeting recently. This is after Typhoon Rolly devastated massive parts of the Bicol and Cagayan Valley regions, leaving people dead, displaced, and without livelihood.

In response to the critics, the Palace defended the president’s actions and said that it was meant to “lighten the mood” as the nation deals with the destruction caused by successive storms. (Read: Here’s Why Even Filipinos Should Care About the US Elections)

Talagang hindi ninyo maipagkakait sa kaniya [President Duterte] na dahil sunud-sunod ang nakikita niyang trahedya eh kahit papaano humanap ng dahilan para magkaroon ng konting break from—iyong mga kalamidad na binibisita niya,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a news conference.

This statement received various feedbacks, with some netizens expressing support to the President while others indicating their disapproval, saying that there are better ways to cope and deal with stress during an emergency response.

But what are these ways to de-stress other than making jokes, you might ask? Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What to Do Before Disaster Response

Before responding to an emergency or disaster, it is best to know what your role would be in disaster response. This way, you will be more equipped to serve during an emergency. If you are traveling and will be working long hours, let your loved ones know how they can contact you. Set realistic expectations for them and for yourself to take the pressure and lessen the anxiety.

Photo from iOS Gadget Hacks

What to Do During Disaster Response

Witnessing human suffering for long periods of time will definitely take a toll on you. This can lead to burnout and secondary traumatic stress—reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences. (Read: 5 Food Must-Haves in Your Emergency Kit) To cope, limit your time working alone and work in teams instead. Remember to take breaks, eat healthily, drink lots of water, and establish the buddy system so you can also keep others in check. 

Photo from Philippine Red Cross Facebook

What to Do After Disaster Response

Excessive stress often results in feelings of not being well-rested, so the best way to cope is to not push yourself to work. Instead, take this time to rest as much as you can. Disasters also reveal the worst which often leads to responders being cynical. To avoid this, remember the success and positive results from what you did. This practice will help you maintain a more optimistic outlook. It will also help if you exercise caution in discussing the aftermath of the response.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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