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Last modified: Thursday, 13-Dec-2012 15:35:47 EST

University Counseling Center (UCC)

Dealing with the Emotional Damage from Sandy

From the JED Foundation

Sandy did more than destroy homes and disable power grids – the storm also had a tremendous emotional impact on both those in its path and those watching from afar. Whether you are waiting for recovery to begin in your community or worrying about loved ones while watching the endless stream of photos and video, it's normal to feel overwhelmed emotionally. Even during this chaotic time, it's important not to ignore those feelings. Below are some tips for handling sadness or anxiety related to this storm and ways to feel better.

If you are outside of the storm's path and looking for a way to send emotional support to those affected by Sandy, check out these suggestions on Love is Louder.

Don't hold it in. It's normal to feel sadness, anxiety, fear, anger or a mix of those emotions, in the aftermath of a disaster. It's important not to hold it all in. Talk to a friend, family member or a counselor. If you don't have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, call 1-800-273-TALK for a confidential chat with someone who can help. * For University of Rochester students call (585) 275-3113 to talk to a counsler or to access our after hours on-call therapist.

Turn if off. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – news of tragedy and details of its impact come at us from every angle. Sometimes you need to flip off your tv, computer or phone, and focus on something else. When you do follow the news, stick to reliable sources and avoid rumors or speculation.

Get up and get out. Tragedies like this can weigh so heavily on us that it makes it hard to move. Whether you feel trapped in your apartment waiting for the power to come back on, or find yourself pacing the floor waiting for an update from a friend or relative impacted by the storm, it's important to give yourself some activity and some distraction. The simple act of taking a walk, hitting the gym, running some errands or playing a board game with friends, can help us cope with tough feelings and feel better.

Look out for friends. If you notice a friend or family member is having a hard time dealing with news about a tragedy, reach out and offer support. Look out for warning signs that they are feeling hopeless. These could include not wanting to see other people, not sleeping or sleeping all the time, increased use of drugs or alcohol, or talking about death or dying. It is natural for people near a tragedy to feel anxious and have some difficulty concentrating or sleeping for a short while. These feelings should get better in a few days (or weeks for those very closely impacted). If they are not improving, seek help for yourself or a friend. Get more tips on helping a friend here.

Turn feelings into action. It's so easy to be overcome with sadness, anger or anxiety after a disaster that causes pain for so many people. It's healthy to express those feelings, but we can also choose to turn them into positive action. If you're in the path of the storm, donating goods or volunteering can help you feel better and support the emotional health of others in your community. You can also donate to the Red Cross or show your emotional support to those impacted by the storm. If you do volunteer, remember to look out for yourself as well. Neglecting your own physical or emotional health could make things worse.

Become part of our Love is Louder than Sandy effort to show our emotional support to anyone struggling in the aftermath of the storm.

From the JED Foundation

Half of Us

Dealing with the Emotional Damage from Sandy

Love is Louder

The information in this article is from the website Half of Us

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