Managing stressed people

An adverse event which threatens life or safety, such as an earthquake or flood can have a profound impact on the people involved.

Reactions to such disasters can include confusion, disorientation, feelings of fear, sadness, guilt and anger. People can have trouble sleeping and concentrating, others may have distressing memories and images of the event.

People cope with trauma in different ways, and following a traumatic event it's important to regain a sense of safety and control.

Coping with the impact of a disaster

Spending time with family and friends and getting back to daily routines are effective coping strategies. Balance the amount of media coverage you watch - getting information is important, but watching or listening to news too frequently can reinforce distress. Coping strategies include:

  • Regular meals
  • Rest and sleep
  • Exercise
  • Work
  • Study
  • Relaxation
  • Play

Self-help tips for recovering from a traumatic event


  • Spend time with friends and family who care 
  • Give yourself time 
  • Find out about impact of trauma and what to expect
  • Try to return to a normal routine - meals, work, sleep, exercise 
  • Talk about how you feel or what happened when you're ready to 
  • Do things that help you relax 
  • Do things that you enjoy.


  • Don't use alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Don't keep yourself busy or work too much
  • Don't engage in stressful family or work situation
  • Don't withdraw from family and friends
  • Don't stop yourself from doing things you enjoy
  • Don't avoid talking about what happened
  • Don't take risks.

When to get help

For most people, reactions to traumatic events gradually decrease over time.  For some people these problems can last longer and start interfering with their ability to return to their normal routine.  Seek advice from your GP or health professional if you're not feeling better after two weeks.