Moving Towards Recovery: Tips for Transitioning - MetroFamily Magazine
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Moving Towards Recovery: Tips for Transitioning

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The past week has been difficult for Oklahoma. But, in the face of such extreme loss, we've also seen inspiring stories of compassion, kindness and generosity. It's been an emotional, intense week and we are just at the beginning of the recovery process.

A few days after the May 20th tornado, we asked our Facebook fans how they were feeling and coping in the face of such destruction. Many of the answers indicated that, like our staff, they were feeling overwhelmed and sad. And as the days pass and recovery efforts continue, the emotional and mental toll can be extraordinary.

Experts say for our own mental health—and particularly for our kids—there are important steps we can take to begin to move forward from this crisis. We recently spoke with Dr. Lisa Marotta, a psychologist in Edmond who specializes in children and families, about how to begin transitioning from crisis mode and get back into our daily routines.

"The problem is that the tragedy in the metro and beyond has happened just at a time that is always a point of disruption, the end of school," Dr. Marotta explains. "So even if there wasn't a distressing event that had happened, parents and children would be in transition mode and feeling a little out of sorts."

Marotta suggests the following things to think about and do as a parent:

Realize that it's okay to move out of the crisis mode and get back into the family routine, or the new family routine now that school is out. She recommends going into this period with a sense of gratitude and an awareness of others' needs, but not to get stuck in the crisis.
Be aware of what others' needs are and weave your actions to these needs into your daily lives. Remember that this is a long-term recovery and that there are needs to be met far out in the future. Marotta suggests that we pace ourselves in our efforts to help.
Part of the "being stuck" in the crisis may be from too much TV watching. The constant coverage tends to make us feel like we should still be in crisis mode when in reality, we should be moving to recovery.
Remember that your kids have just finished school and they are ready to get into "summer" mode. Get into that new routine, participate in your normal home and summer activities. It's healthy to do so.
Also, be aware that the current disaster may bring up feelings of previous local disasters, from the OKC bombing in 1995, the May 3, 1999 tornado, etc. Try to keep the big picture in mind, that the danger is over and the recovery is what we should concentrate on at this time.

By getting back in to the routines, the "ordinary" way of living, we will feel more balanced and less stressed.

Other Resources for Parents:

Sunbeam Family Services will host two, free community workshops on Thursday, May 30 on how to talk to children about natural disasters, specifically the tornadoes that have affected our community. The workshops will be hel at noon and 6pm at Oklahoma City Educare (500 SE Grand Boulevard). 

Soothing Your Child After the Storm

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network—Impact of tornadoes

Tips to Protect Your Child's Mental Well Being in the Aftermath of the Storms

Talking to your children about tornado devastation, media coverage and more

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