Houston’s innate capacity for resilience

Houston’s innate capacity for resilience

With great sympathy and respect for our loss of life, property, and ongoing trauma, Houston is a faith-based community, with an innate capacity for resilience.

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, MBO

For those who know me, I’ve worked with many cultures around the globe, been a first responder to the 9/11/2001 World Trade Center, and handled crisis and trauma for over 20 years. While we’re all affected differently, we typically share more commonalities than differences in our process or recovery.

The effects of hurricane Harvey will be studied for years to come. A hurricane is a severe traumatic event. You should know that even in cases where there is no outwardly visible sign of physical injury or death, exposure to a traumatic event like Hurricane Harvey can take both a physical and emotional toll on all of us. Strong emotional reactions are also common after a traumatic event, and they can occur for a long time to come. Likewise, first responders or individuals involved in our disaster relief work will likely have similar reactions called “secondary traumatic stress” or “compassion fatigue”. “Survivors-guilt” is another, very real phenomenon that affects those of us “spared” from physical loss.

While reactions to disaster stress vary from person to person, an understanding of “typical responses” to this atypical, catastrophic event can promote healing. Revisiting some otherwise obvious tips for working through, can aid in coping effectively with your reactions, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and help you to safeguard your emotional health at this time.

Suggested Tips to Cope During This Time

  • Rotate between low and high stress activity

    Photo: David J. Phillip/AP

  • Take a break when you need it (listen to your body)
  • Increase healthy calories and water intake
  • Sleep is imperative to recovery
  • Share your stories with those who will listen & empathize
  • Seek stress relieving activity and some sense of normalcy when possible
  • Volunteer, donate, or help another in any way you can
  • Engage in spiritual activity & start a prayer journal, write about what’s meaningful to you
  • Limit repetitive or negative media accounts
  • Avoid alcohol and other drug abuse
  • Expect recovery to take time and effort, there’s no such thing as a quick fix in times like this
  • Ask for and accept professional help when needed