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Friday, October 29, 2010

When Disaster Strikes - FREQUENT Suggestions

When I asked my fellow storytellers what suggestions they could offer, this is a list of suggestions given by more than one person. 
  • The most often given suggestion was to take breaks in NATURE and fall into rhythm with nature.  I live in a setting where I thought I already was doing this until my husband, Tom, and I had to travel to the north tip of the Michigan "mitten."  It was a work-related trip, but it was also just as autumn's colors were popping out in all their glory.  We returned to our Chaos Central and it didn't take long to return to all the insanity, but we still talk about our gratitude for that trip.
  • Do whatever gives you a sense of well being (chocolate, dinner, a movie, reading, time with an upbeat friend, pets, physical activity etc.) and renews rather than drains you.
  • Get away for short bursts.
  • Do small jobs and focus on 1 accomplishment at a time.  (In our particular Chaos there is a seemingly endless supply of such jobs, listing what was destroyed, and, eventually, putting things back in order.)
  • Try to keep a regular schedule.  My work isn't regular.  Normally I thrive on that, but during a crisis, times subbing in the library felt like a vacation!  Added to that, I found a dance class or rehearsals for a coming show were a help.  It felt insane to do any of this, but it was helpful to have this regularity already on my schedule and it also forced me to really concentrate on something different.
  • Journal, especially gratitude – nightly list 5 things for which you are grateful.
  • Cry. (Giving yourself permission means you won’t have to do it too often.)  I am NOT a person who cries easily.  It was hard for me to do this.  It finally came in church.  I use sign language as I sing as it helps me think about what I'm singing.  I found I became both fierce and tearful as God challenged me to trust His support.
  • Let go a little…it’s o.k. to be overwhelmed and not give yourself a hard time about it; you have grieving to do (possessions also hold meaning and saying goodbye is important).
  • Laughter and humor, even if dark, is needed.  Personally I've always considered humor a major weapon in my toolbox for any problem.
  • See the benefits: After a big CA earthquake, a woman said in an NPR interview that at first she was very sad, especially about photos and special mementos, but then she realized she could put all her remaining “stuff” in her car and be free to travel anywhere.  
Speaking about benefits: I do NOT recommend my type of Disaster as a way to renovate, but it did have that benefit.  Unfortunately I like my surroundings to require minimal attention.  I do NOT have a Decorator gene and am not somebody who moves furniture about for a change of pace.

  • Exercise and eat a well balanced diet of healthy food.  Disasters are by their nature stressful.  You also are more prone to accidents then and it's easier to get sick.  I remember a broken leg happened in our family when a daughter had brain surgery.   As for strained muscles, right now I'm blaming all the heavy moving, but tension may have also played a part. 
That's the suggestions I heard from more than one person.  The next section will have ideas offered by only one person, but still may help you.


You may also find the conclusions reached on the anniversary of our disaster at When Disaster Strikes One Year Later worth checking.