Coping with the Stress of an Evacuation

There are many complexities and challenges coping with an evacuation. One challenge evacuees are often not prepared for is that people who have not experienced an evacuation often don’t understand the enormity of the situation.  For example, people who have not experienced this type of crisis and disaster may say things like “well at least you didn’t lose your house or belongings,” indicating that the impact on you was small or insignificant.  When a community, or parts of a community experience loss, so do the people within the community. It is likely that the forest fires may create a feeling of lack of safety for you. This is also a form of loss.

Recognize that fear and loss can bring up:

  • Old losses from the past, even ones you thought you had moved through, coped with and resolved.
  • Unresolved conflicts and frustrations.
  • Impatience, irritability and less tolerance than you had before the fires.

Some tips for coping:

  • Look for other areas in your life where you can reduce stress by reducing your expectations… be kind to yourself.
  • Practice good self-care.  Get lots of sleep (you may feel like you want naps during the day because the emotional stress can be very tiring).  Eat healthy, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and try and maintain some routines.  Make sure you get some physical exercise such as walking, biking, and doing physical activities.
  • Don’t check social media or emails right before bed. Often people are looking at disturbing pictures and videos which greatly impacts your rest and sleep as your mind will keep running several hours afterwards,

Recognize that an evacuation is traumatic, and contacting a counsellor or crisis line may be an important part of your coping.  You can dial 2-1-1 on your phone to contact and Information and Referral Specialist who can help connect you to the appropriate community resources.

You can also call the confidential 24 hour crisis line 780-743-HELP (4357).