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How to cope with anxiety and stress in an emergency?


An emergency situation is characterized by uncertainty and causes changes and disruption to the routine life patterns. Emotional and behavioral responses of different people in an emergency situation vary in their intensity, but are similar in essence. Common physical responses include fatigue, weakness, lack of appetite etc., side by side with emotional reactions such as fears and anxieties, sadness, depression, lack of concentration and so on.
It is important to know that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation.
What can we do today in order to be prepared and cope more easily with potential emergency situations? The principle is simple: the more we know about emergencies in general and about the ways of coping with them in particular, the better we can function and believe in our own abilities and those of the people close to us, to cope with the situations as they arise. Advance preparation will make an emergency seem familiar and allow us to be ready with the physical means and the ways of possible responses, in order to react more effectively.

The following is a number of “rules of thumb” to help you cope better with an emergency:

  1.  Perform all the preparatory activities as directed by the proper authorities (the IDF, the Home Front Command, the local and municipal authorities etc.).
  2. Identify the things that helped you in the past when you were in trouble or under stress, and use them. Every person has some special things that help them cope (such as physical exercise, talk with a friend or a relative, being in the company of close people, collecting information about the situation, religious faith, etc.). In addition, something that helps others, may also help you.
  3. Acting (as opposed to staying passive) increases the feeling of control over the situation. Help yourself and others.
  4. Fulfill your and your family’s physical needs: food and drink, rest and sleep.
  5.  Express your emotions. Ability to express emotions is a sign of strength and not of weakness. It is important to hold family discussions (led by one or both parents) for the purpose of strengthening the mutual support and the feeling of togetherness, presenting an opportunity to express feelings and various reactions by the members of the family during a prolonged period of emergency – to show that they are normal and shared by others, and to create a feeling that despite the hardship, all of you can carry on, with the family as the most significant source of support for all its members.