Supporting yourself and your loved ones during the disaster aftermath
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Experiencing a natural disaster, such as a flood, severe storm, earthquake, or fire, can be immensely stressful and scary. It can also take a great toll on your mental health and wellbeing.

Everyone responds differently in these situations and at their own pace, too. It’s important to remember that feeling all sorts of emotions in difficult situations is absolutely normal and human. You could be experiencing a range of physical reactions, too – feeling shaky, queasy, having no appetite, or struggling to concentrate. During the natural disaster and in its aftermath, some of us will be running on adrenaline, trying to get through each moment. Others may feel helpless, confused, and not know what to do. Whatever you’re feeling, know that it’s perfectly okay – you’re not alone, and you’re doing the best you can right now.
Unexpected and scary events can also make us feel like we have little control. If you’re feeling out of sorts right now, there are things you can do to regain that sense of control and improve your wellbeing. Here are some tips you might find helpful:
  • If you’ve been directly affected by the natural disaster and need practical help (e.g., with clean-up, temporary accommodation, food and clothing, etc.), don’t hesitate to reach out – there is no shame in needing help and support. There are many wonderful community services and volunteers that can lend you a hand in this difficult time.
  • Financial stress is a common concern after a natural disaster, which can add considerably to the load you’re already carrying. You may be eligible for financial assistance, and there are many other resources and free financial planning and budgeting services available.We’ve put together a list of free financial advice and mentoring services on page 5 of this resource.
  • Talk about your feelings and experiences. It's easy to feel isolated after a disaster event, but staying connected to others and being part of a community can make a big difference. Share your thoughts and feelings with whānau, friends, colleagues, neighbours, or others who have been through the same experience.
  • Self-care may seem trivial when you’re dealing with the effects of a natural disaster, but taking good care of your taha tinana (physical health) and taha hinengaro (mental health) is key when times are tough. As much as you can, do things that make you feel good, like exercising, reading, listening to music, or spending time with loved ones.
  • Limit how much time you spend on social media or checking the news. Take time to rest when you need to.
  • Try simple relaxation techniques. Even taking some deep breaths or stopping for a few moments to notice the world around you can help alleviate feelings of anxiety.
  • If you’re able to, find something constructive to do. Look out for others. Try and achieve little things that help to keep you positive. Shifting your focus to ‘practical stuff’ can help ease your stress levels.
  • If you need to, reach out to a nurse or doctor at your local general practice.
  • Be patient with yourself. You will find a sense of balance and peacefulness again, at your own pace.
Kei roto I te pōuri, te marama e whiti ana. Through perseverance and hope, we will overcome.
Further support:
  • If you or someone you know needs some extra support right now, please reach out to a free helpline to chat with a trained counsellor. Free call or text 1737, text Youthline at 234, or look for other options here.
  • Free wellbeing apps You can download the Groov and Headstrong wellbeing apps for free for Android and Apple phones – you can find them in your Google Play or Apple App Store.
  • Support for rural and farming communities A local Rural Support Trust (RST) is a great place to access free and confidential support and advice. This nationwide network, run by local people, helps farming families and rural communities. RSTs have facilitators trained to recognise issues with mental health and wellbeing. They can also put you in touch with services including health information or financial support. Call 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP) or visit

    Farmstrong is a nationwide wellbeing programme for the rural community. Their website hosts a range of resources to help you manage your wellbeing. Visit