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Managing Your Distress About the Earthquake from Afar

For people with friends and family living in Haiti, watching news coverage of the earthquake’s devastation can be very distressing, particularly if there is no news on their safety and well-being. Even for those without personal connections to the country, the news coverage can be overwhelming.

The American Psychological Association offers the following tips to manage your distress:

  • Take a news break. Watching endless replays of footage from the disaster can make your stress even greater. Although you will want to keep informed-especially if you have loved ones in Haiti-taking a break from watching the news can lessen your distress.
  • Control what you can. There are routines in your life that you can continue such as going to work or school and making meals. It is helpful to maintain these routines and schedules to give yourself a break from constantly thinking about the earthquake.
  • Engage in healthy behaviors. Eat well-balanced meals, engage in regular exercise like going for a long walk, and get plenty of rest. Bolstering your physical well-being is good for your emotional health and can enhance your ability to cope.
  • Keep things in perspective. While an earthquake can bring tremendous hardship and loss, remember to focus on the things that re good in your life. Preserve and trust in your ability to get through the challenging days ahead.
  • Find a productive way to help if you can. Many organizations are set up to provide various forms of aid to survivors. Contributing or volunteering is a positive action that can help you to make a difference.
  • Strive for a positive outlook. Many people who have experienced tragedy find that they grow in some respect as a result of preserving through the hardship. Over time, people can discover personal strengths and develop a greater appreciation for life.

For many people, using the tips above may be sufficient to get them through current challenges. At times, however, an individual can have difficulty managing intense reactions. If difficult feelings and reactions persist, seek professional help. The NJIT Counseling Center is available to assist you in developing as appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help id you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living. The Counseling Center is located in Campbell Hall, Room 205, and can be reached at (973)596-3414.

Adapted from: Managing your distress about the earthquake from afar. American Psychological Association, APA Help Center.