Brymer emphasizes that there is no one way of coping. "One thing we have learned is that individuals, even members of the same family who went through the same disaster together, have different ways of expressing themselves about the event," she says.
Don't assume that others will feel or react the same way you will. Each one of us has been impacted in a different way and we must accept that others may have their own way of expressing themselves.
If someone needs a longer period of time before they can talk about what has happened, be OK with that, says Brymer. Be willing to listen when they are ready. You can check in with them frequently by asking, "How are you doing right now?"
5. Limit exposure
Many of us have been glued to our various media screens for updated images and news about the disaster and rescue efforts. Brymer suggests curbing that inclination because "ongoing exposure can make some people even more anxious and worried."
6. Practice calming and relaxation methods
What can you do to help alleviate anxiety in the moment?
Both Heaps and Brymer suggested finding ways to calm yourself during anxious moments. This can take many forms, including deep breathing or meditation. Some people like music or singing. Others prefer praying. Whatever works best for you is the one you should be doing.
When we are distressed, we take rapid and shallow breaths. Brymer suggests taking time out throughout the day to breathe in and out slowly. Pay particular attention to breathing out, she says.
Or try this exercise: Tense your muscles and then relax them. This helps people identify where the tension may lie in their bodies and tightening the muscles may help people relax them more effectively, says Heaps.
"You may also distract yourself," advises Brymer. "Remind yourself that you are OK right now, that you are safe. And keep repeating it, if you need to. Because more than likely, you are safe. Self-talk can be very helpful."
7. Lend a hand in any way you can
"Service is a therapeutic activity," says Heaps. "Some people find it difficult to accept help. It's important to accept help, but it is equally important to help others."
Both Heaps and Brymer suggest seeking support from mental health professionals if stress reactions to the disaster feel overwhelming or continue long-term.
For more information, visit the American Psychological Association's help center or the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.