Using Journaling after a Natural Disaster
This week our community suffered a pretty bad storm. Heavy rains, strong winds, and a tornado touched down. Thousands were left without power, schools were canceled, and travel was impossible because of fallen trees. At least 2 people lost their lives, one of them a young girl.
Events like these can make us feel out of control, scared, and helpless. These are all totally normal reactions. But just because reactions are “normal,” doesn’t mean we have to be slaves to them. There are steps we can take to help us feel better. If you are having a hard time as a result of the storm or any other natural disaster, here are some ways that journaling might be able to help you. Remember, you can do as many or as few as you’d like of these, do whatever feels right for you.
- Make a list of the things you are feeling. You can’t address your feelings and start to feel better if you don’t know what they are. Write down all of the things you are thinking and feeling.
- Do a re-cap. Sometimes after a big scary event we might feel out of sorts. We might feel overwhelmed and have a hard time getting our thoughts in order. That’s okay. Doing a recap of the events might help. You can either write a timeline with bullet points of the events that took place, or write it out in sentences like a story. It can be helpful to include how you were feeling during each stage of the event. If you feel comfortable, you can go back and re-read what you wrote to try to make sense of it.
- Think about what you have control over. One of the hardest parts of dealing with a natural disaster is feeling like we have no control. Try to think about what you DO have control over. Even the little things that you control like what you eat for lunch and what clothes you wear are important to remember when we are feeling stressed and out of control. Obviously, you can’t control the weather, but think about all the things you CAN control and write them down. We usually control a lot more than we realize.
- What has helped in the past? Think about what has helped you get through it when you were having a hard time in the past? What coping skills did you use? A coping skill is something that you use to help you feel better. Some examples of common coping skills are; listening to music, taking a walk, deep breathing, playing video games, and…journaling! Write down some of your coping skills that have worked in the past. It’s a good idea to have a list of coping skills in your journal that you can look at when you’re having a hard time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what helps us feel better when we are feeling bad in the moment. After you make your list of coping skills, try some out!
- Who can you talk to? It’s important to connect with others after something scary like a natural disaster happens. Make a list of people who you can talk to about how you are feeling. You can also brainstorm what you’d like to say to them and questions you’d like to ask. After you finish journaling, try talking to someone from your list in real life about how you are feeling.
- What can you do to help? Sometimes after a natural disaster helping others can help us feel better. Chances are, your community is doing a lot to rebuild and get things back to normal. Can you brainstorm ways you can get involved? Can you think of other things your community might need to get through this? What can you do to help?
Whether you choose to journal through art or writing or another medium, these ideas could help you feel a little bit better after a natural disaster. And, as always, if you find yourself still struggling, it’s important to talk to an adult about how you are feeling and ask for help.
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