In emergencies, people can use up more emotional energy than they realise. They put themselves into a survival state to deal with problems and cope with fears, frustrations and other feelings. The body’s natural way of working outside the normal comfort zone in this way is called a ‘state of stress’.
It means people can:
- focus on the important things
- concentrate and work hard for long periods
- put aside feelings in order to do what has to be done
- carry lots of details in their mind
- put their own needs aside and not feel hunger or fatigue
- while others are in need think clearly and quickly
- keep a step ahead of what is happening.
Being in a ‘state of stress’ uses a great deal of energy. People can usually keep going for as long as they need to but eventually they start to feel the effects of stress. They cannot maintain their energy level and come off the ‘high’ they have been on. It is at this time that people may start to display stress symptoms. The longer the emergency lasts, the stronger the symptoms are likely to be. Often they start while the emergency is on, but may be worse after it is over. This is the rebound to the extra efforts that have been made during the crisis. Stress is normal and natural, but needs to be understood so it does not cause further problems.