Emergencies are naturally a very stressful time. Your capacity to manage your stress can have a big impact on how staff and customers respond to the threat of an emergency. By concentrating on your and others’ physical and emotional wellbeing, you can maintain your capacity and reduce the impacts of stress. Strategies to do this include:
- Take regular food, drink and breaks; preferably before you need them.
- Take emotional breaks by putting aside fears and worries for a time by doing something practical – maybe for others.
- Physical energy and emotions are tied together. Don’t think about emotional problems when you are tired. Think about it when you have rested.
- Manage emotions by not feeding negative feelings. Express positive emotions to others – optimism, faith in the future, confidence in survival.
- If you have negative emotions, talk about them rather than expressing them directly. You inspire others by how you behave rather than how you feel.
- When you are angry, tearful or upset, take someone aside to let off steam with, rather than doing it in front of everyone – emotional distress is contagious.
- If you feel fearful or hopeless about how big the situation is, focus on something you can do and do it.
- Even when at task is urgent, take a moment to plan what you are doing, don’t just act impulsively.
- If you can’t think clearly or feel overwhelmed, take time out – leaving a problem you’re unable to solve for five minutes allows you to free your mind and often reveals new insights.
- Combat fear about what might happen by concentrating on what needs to be done.
Adapted from Stress After Emergencies: Factsheet, prepared by Department of Human Services
“To get through it we had to keep ourselves focused on what was really important,” said Mary. “Ray and I were fine, and our family was fine. We had to keep in mind that, at the end of the day, nothing else really mattered.”
Mary Winter, Licola General Store & Caravan Park
“It can be daunting when you look at the amount of damage a flood or a natural disaster has caused, but hold your chin up and keep going no matter how things appear. Keep busy and keep looking forward. Look for viable ways of opening the business again. Make every day a good day.”
Craig Stevenson, Montana Caravan & Camping Park, Glenmaggie
“Managing our response to a major emergency like a bushfire is a significant part of the business recovery process. One of the most important things is to think creatively and stop feeling aggressive and blaming others about what’s happened. There’s no point in looking back and dwelling on what you’ve lost.
“Ask yourself - What is my product? What is my approach? What am I going to do about what’s happened? We have to rise to the challenge.”
Daniel Boissevain, 5 Star Adventure Tours, Great Alpine National Park