Disaster Fatigue

2017 fires
(cc) 2017 Dicklyon Aerial view of smoke from the 2017 fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties, California, viewed from near the south end of Lake Berryessa, nearest to the Atlas fire and looking toward the Nuns fire. Point Reyes is visible in the distance.

Fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, rolling back the Clean Air Act, Harvey, Irma, Maria, defunding the EPA, Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, California, climate change denial becomes policy, sexual harassment, World War III, floods, droughts: If you follow the news you have heard about all of these incidents. It gets to be overwhelming. In this country alone hundreds of thousands of people are being worn down by the constant barrage of bad news. This country has been through this to some extent before, for example during the Depression and during the late 1960s and the Viet Nam War. However, today people are plugged in and it takes effort to avoid the news. We don’t have to wait for the delivery of the morning newspaper. We can follow “the news” constantly online.

Grist has an article about “disaster fatigue/compassion fatigue/secondary trauma syndrome” (After the disaster comes disaster fatigue. Here’s how to fight it. October, 2017 by Ask Umbra).

Humans aren’t made to process an unlimited amount of trauma. In fact, we’re wired to protect ourselves against it. . . . seeing so much destruction and feeling incapable of doing anything leads to a kind of moral distress.

We all need to take a step back, breathe deeply, and take a break. Taking care of ourselves is a priority in times like these. Let’s make it a habit.