Recovering After a Natural Disaster

Natural disasters like bushfires, floods, cyclones, drought and other traumatic ‘natural’ events are extremely challenging for many people across the community. People will have varied physical and/or emotional reactions following a natural disaster. For some, it may feel overwhelming and become difficult to cope.

Below are some ways that natural disasters may impact you or others:

  • Feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted or confused
  • Feeling sad, overwhelmed or angry
  • Shock, feeling ‘numb’
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Feeling lonely, isolated or withdrawn
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, stomach ache and chest pain
  • Resentment or blaming others
  • Disrupted sleeping and eating patterns
  • Increased substance use
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Recovery takes time. It is important to allow yourself time to process your circumstances. There are things you can do to support healing and recovery from a natural disaster.

1. Recognise when it’s getting too much – watch out for signs of stress and get extra support when needed. Allow yourself extra time to get things done.

2. Talk to someone you trust – release your emotions and tension by talking to someone you trust.

3. Develop a financial action plan – summarise your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank to alleviate financial stress where possible.

4. Take care of yourself – try to get back to your normal routine when you feel ready. Wherever possible, schedule extra time for things you enjoy or that you find relaxing. Remember that healthy eating, exercise and having enough sleep will support healing and recovery.

5. Connect – strong support networks can provide emotional or practical support. Lean on family and friends, explain your needs and tell them how they can help.

6. Consider professional help – if you don’t feel some return to normal after four weeks, seek professional help (earlier if needed). Your GP is often a good starting point.

Getting through bushfire, floods and extreme climate events – Toolkit 

Help is available. Below are some places to go for information and support. If life is in danger, please call 000.

  • Your GP
  • Psychologist/Counsellor

National Resources

  • National Bushfire Recovery Agency – Bushfire Recovery
  • Department of Human Services – Human Services 
  • Rural Financial Counselling Service – 1800 686 175
  • Farmer Assistance Hotline – Free call 132 316
  • Rural Aid Australia – Free Call 1300 327 624
  • ATO Drought Tax Hotline – 131 142


For 24-hour telephone crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14

If life is in danger, call 000

Lifeline South Coast would like to acknowledge the lives that have been lost to suicide. We are committed to supporting those with a lived experience of suicide and aim to reduce the stigma around seeking help for poor mental health and suicidal crisis.