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Americans Feel Katrina's Emotional Toll

Taking Action, Establishing Normal Routine Help Relieve Despair

Build Feelings of Normalcy, Security

To help ease stress, it's important to take care of yourself -- especially if you're a volunteer, says Kaslow. That means eating right, getting regular exercise, staying in touch with friends and family. Prayer and meditation can also help.

Limit the amount of time you watch television coverage, Kaslow advises. "We all get into overload. [The media] has done a wonderful job, but there's not that much change in the news every 15 minutes. You need to monitor your TV viewing, otherwise it overwhelms you. You feel paralyzed. I don't mean quit watching entirely, but be mindful how much you are watching."

Getting back to your regular routine can help you cope, says O'Malley. "It's important that we all get back our regular routine, especially if we have children. They should not spend 20 hours a day thinking about this. They need games to play. They have friends to make."

In your family, introduce the feeling of problem solving, he suggests. "Without alarming anyone too much, it's useful for families to sit and talk about what's going on. It's helpful to talk about your family's plan for disaster. 'Here's what we will do if something happens; we'll go to Aunt Lily's.' Whatever you can do to support the idea that we're not helpless is good."

"Even though tragedy can strike, there's always something people can do to help themselves and their families to get through it," O'Malley says.

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