Managing prolonged stress during the Fire Season: Written by Karen Challand Registered Nurse.
The more prepared we are, the more we feel in control and
the less fear and anxiety we have.
Put into place your “Bush Fire Survival Plan”. Know what you will do and if the decision is to evacuate, leave early.
Complete your Property Preparation, what to take if evacuating and a plan for your animals.
We are told this Fire Season could last for weeks or months. How do we cope?
When local fire activity is low, we prepare, stay informed and get on with living as normally as possible. This includes fun and relaxation. Normality will help reduce anxiety.
Constantly tuning in to fire activity that is not impacting on us or loved ones directly, can feed our anxiety and create inaction and indecision. While this may be manageable over a short period of time, prolonged anxiety and stress impacts mental health.
Action reduces stress. Distraction reduces stress.
Find what helps you recharge mentally and physically.
If you feel unable to cope, are constantly fearful, stressed or anxious, then contact your GP or one of the following organisations for professional help:
NSW Mental Health Help Line: 1800 011 511
Rural Adversity Mental Health (RAMHP): www.ramhp.com.au
Healthy Minds Counselling 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Mon to Friday: 1300 160 335
Mensline: 1300 789 978 Lifeline: 13 11 14 Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 Kids Anxiety: www.youthbeyondblue.com
Fire Impact Victims: Connect to Wellbeing: 1300 160 339
When Bush Fire Alert levels change on an existing Fire or a new Fire is in your area, become vigilant and enact your plan.
If you have prepared as outlined above, you know what to do. Do not become indecisive.
Decisiveness reduces anxiety.
When you are satisfied that the fire in your area is downgraded to “ADVICE” and there is no immediate danger, stay up to date in case the situation changes.
Start living as normally as you can.
The Unfortunate New Normal.
The changing fire activity could see our lives being stressful one day and less so the next. As destabilising as this is, we need to find ways to manage this and adapt as changes occur.
When there is No Fire, Alert Level is “ADVICE” on a local fire, or smoke is from fires some distance away:
Live as normally as you can, when you can. Have some fun and reduce stress. Enjoy time with family and friends.
Enjoy some “self care”.
Accept help when offered.
Help others. This takes us out of ourselves and changes our focus.
Feeling part of a community with common goals helps build our confidence and resilience.
"Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You're strong. You got this. Take it day by day." Karen Salmansohn