It has been a harrowing month for many due to the recent fires that have been burning in the Queanbeyan / Pallerang region. Staff at headspace Queanbeyan have been concerned for of all our colleagues, young people and their families and friends in fire affected regions. Natural disasters can be hard to cope with and can happen unexpectedly. Many people who have been through a natural disaster feel a range of different emotions: fear and anxiety; grief and loss; anger and confusion; sadness and emptiness; denial; guilt and shock. All of these emotions are normal, however can have an impact on our mental health. You may withdraw from your family and friends, or perhaps start to get irritable with others, as you try to manage your emotions. You may think about the event all the time or have trouble sleeping. Your appetite can change as well: some people want to eat more, and others find they don't feel hungry. Some people use alcohol and other drugs to 'switch off' however, reducing your use of substances is recommended at this time. If any of this happens for any length of time then seeking professional help may be beneficial. Very strong emotions normally start to settle by about six weeks after the disaster. If you still have trouble with your emotions or with your usual daily activities after this time, then think about getting some professional help. If you ever feel unable to cope because of overwhelming or intense emotions, or if you have any thoughts of harming yourself, then ask for help immediately. If you have been directly or indirectly affected by the fires in the region in any way here are some tips to help you look after yourself during a tough time: - Make sure you are eating and sleeping well and taking care of yourself physically; - Keep to your regular routines and structure as much as possible; - Allow yourself ‘worry time’ and then set those thoughts aside if you can; - Set some realistic goals; - Reduce alcohol and other drug use; - Use your strengths and surround yourself with support; - Spend time with family and friends; and, - Engage in your usual hobbies, sports and relaxation activities. For more information go to headspace.org.au and search “natural disasters” or follow these links: https://headspace.org.au/young-people/how-to-cope-with-the-stress-of-natural-disasters/?stage=Live https://headspace.org.au/friends-and-family/how-to-support-your-child-after-a-natural-disaster/?stage=Live For 24 hour support contact Lifeline on 13 11 10. For young people 12-25 and their family eheadspace can be contacted on 1800 650 890 or for online support eheadspace.org.au. headspace Queanbeyan can be contacted on 6298 0300 and headspace Goulburn on 4824 4944.