The phases of disaster

COVID-19 affects every aspect of our lives.

Do you get halfway through a page and forget what you’ve read? Have you fired off a quick remark to an e-mail before thinking through your response? Do you have headaches, stomachaches, or trouble sleeping?

These are all common responses to a disaster. You may think it’s just you, but studies show that these are normal reactions to an abnormal situation.

Understanding the phases of disaster

During a disaster, our brains are constantly on the lookout for the next threat, and this causes our brain to continually release cortisol—a key stress hormone. Over time, the constant stress makes people tired, and they can’t control their emotions as effectively.

Dr. Mauseth says even those who don’t usually feel depression or anxiety will struggle during a disaster like COVID-19. They may have a difficult time focusing or remembering details, or they may have a shorter temper and be more likely to show anger and frustration toward others. That is why she recommends learning skills to help identify and control our emotions. She calls these skills COPE, CALM, and CARE.

Wouldn’t it be nice at times if we could pause or stop things happening around us just long enough to take a big, deep breath?

The graph above illustrates the phases in response to natural disasters. Researchers have shown that COVID-19 follows this same pattern.

What you’re feeling is normal.

Currently, we are in the disillusionment phase of COVID-19.

There are MANY well-known and VERY COMMON experiences that happen for most people during the Disillusionment Phase of disaster response and recovery.