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Tips for building resilience after natural disasters


Health Promotion Manager, Lisa Jury shares strategies to cope in difficult times.

The devastation to homes and communities caused by the Auckland Anniversary Floods and Cyclone Gabrielle was felt across the nation.  For many coeliac families, the emergency services did not cater well for people on a restricted diet so the additional support provided by the coeliac community and Coeliac NZ members and volunteers to deliver GF Food Boxes was welcomed. Our thanks go to everyone who donated to the GF Food for Cyclone Disaster Relief and those in the community who helped in responding to the need of others.

Tips for building resilience in the face of disaster

Resilience is probably an overused term, but it is how your body manages stress. Our brains release adrenaline in stressful situations. It can cause you to feel shaky, queasy, and on edge and make it hard to concentrate. This is known as the flight or fight response; it’s your body telling you to be alert and ready for action.

  • Try to keep a normal routine
  • Take slow, measured breaths through your nose
  • Remember, feeling fearful is to be expected.

Maintaining connections to meaningful groups like whanau, faith-based, and volunteer organisations can help you have a natural support group to rally around you when in need.  Staying informed and educated but limiting exposure to media about the disaster.

It is normal to feel anxious about the safety of your whanau, especially if you are living in an affected area. We all have different needs and different ways of coping. It is important to talk to children and teenagers about their feelings and be prepared to discuss the same details many times over.

  • Take one day at a time and do something positive. Maintain balance in your life between personal needs, work, and family obligations until you can return to your usual routine.
  • Offering help to others can also help you in times of crisis.
  • A disaster could be a catalyst to perhaps spur you into becoming involved in neighbourhood preparedness activities for future events.
  • The very best way to enhance your own disaster resilience is by reducing stress. You can do that through strategies such as relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, going for a walk or run, chatting with someone who cares about you, and/or talking to a health professional if you feel overwhelmed.
  • Avoid drugs and excessive drinking and maintain your healthy eating habits.
  • Be patient with yourself and others.

These strategies are all part of mental and physical well-being, and our Coeliac NZ Wellbeing Journal has some tips.  If you don’t have a copy of this excellent journal, visit our website store or email Fred on to purchase one.

Food Safety Facts

Ministry of Primary Industries – Food news is an interesting read and below is the Food Safety Factsheet following Cyclone Gabrielle.  We all must understand how we can ensure food safety for any following environmental events as we have experienced with Cyclone Gabrielle. Things like power failures and what to do with food in your fridge and freezer. Food from the garden, how to keep water safe and clean, collecting kai, and disposing of food.  You can download the pdf factsheet from site search food safety in the home after Cyclone Gabrielle.

*Remember that many of the people in our communities are displaced, have damage to homes, or have lost loved ones. The impact on people’s mental health with the loss, changes, and uncertainty is significant. Coeliac N.Z. encourages you to connect with your whānau, friends, and community. Please ask for help and seek support if you need it and support others if you can.  Need someone to talk to free call or text 1737 anytime or visit their website

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