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Managing Stress Is Important During Flooding

Armen Hareyan's picture

Public health officials are urging Iowans affected by recent flooding to manage stress to reduce injury and further mental distress. Continued long hours of work, emotional and physical exhaustion, and dealing with losses from damaged property can create a highly stressful, but avoidable, situation.

"No one who witnesses a disaster is untouched by it," said Iowa Department of Public Health Director Tom Newton. "In situations like this, it's normal to feel anxious about you and your family's safety. The important thing to keep in mind is that we will get through this. For now, it's important that Iowans follow a few basic tips to avoid injury and further stress."

Across the state, thousands of Iowans are living with relatives or in shelters, assessing property damage or beginning clean-up activities. During this stage of the disaster response, Iowans can reduce their risks of injury and stress in several ways:

* Be alert to emotional exhaustion or strain. Signs may include general anxiety, difficulty communicating thoughts or feelings, limited attention span, becoming easily frustrated or irritable, and cold or flu-like symptoms.

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* When family members and neighbors are unavailable for emotional support, turn to community health centers, mental health organizations, substance abuse counselors or self-help groups, or clergy.

* Resume a normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible. Get plenty of rest and take frequent rest breaks before exhaustion builds up.

* Avoid increased use of alcohol.

* Set priorities for recovery and cleanup. Pace yourself over several days or weeks to avoid mental and physical exhaustion and injury.

* Take advantage of disaster relief programs and services in your area.