OPINION

Remember, we are all in this crisis together

Scarred: As a national community, we have lost a piece of ourselves as our land burns.
Scarred: As a national community, we have lost a piece of ourselves as our land burns.

You don't have to be directly affected to experience emotional overload or stress about what is going on across the country.

Many of us are returning to work this week after a break over Christmas under a cloud of smoke and it can be hard to wrap your head around with the country literally on fire.

Natural disasters impact each of us differently, whether we are directly affected or not.

For those of us who are returning to work, it can be a struggle to focus our attention back on work routines, and some semblance of "normal", particularly when our social media feeds and news channels are filled with disaster and crisis.

You don't have to be directly affected to experience emotional overload or stress about what is going on across the country.

As a national community, we have lost a piece of ourselves as our land burns.

Fear and anxiety with regards to how we will recover as a nation physically, socially, economically, and how (or if) our federal leadership will step up, are common.

I've seen a lot of anger and confusion in the news and across social media, particularly aimed at our PM, because many of us believe this disaster should have been better prepared for, handled and funded at a policy level.

Many of us are confused by our PM's apparent inability to express genuine empathy, to force his seemingly engineered mask of concern onto others, and his continued insistence that watching the cricket will make it all go away.

As photos emerge of animals' burnt remains, houses destroyed and farms decimated, many of us feel a heartfelt sadness about the path of destruction left behind.

Perhaps you lost everything or know someone who has, or the loss of life is bringing your own past experiences of grief to the fore because you can understand what the families left behind must be going through.

We are all grieving the loss of land, livelihood, life and animals together.

If you escaped the hellfire's inferno, it is not uncommon to feel guilt that your home and belongings survived.

Perhaps you are distracting yourself with anything that will take your mind away from the disaster because facing it is overwhelming.

I think we all exist in varied states of shock as we come to terms with this bushfire disaster.

There comes a point where you feel numb, unable to feel anymore because there is just nothing left in you.

I know I've laid awake at night unable to sleep because it's all I can think about, and when I do manage to doze, the fires blaze in my dreams.

It has become consuming.

How do we focus at work when we are experiencing this? When our workplaces are affected, too? When our children are scared, and we have to leave them behind to go to work?

Psychologists suggest going back to basics can help us get through crises like this.

Establishing routines of nutrition, sleep, work and exercise can bring a sense of normalcy to our days, weeks, months ahead.

Sweeping what we are feeling under the carpet or masking it with drugs or alcohol won't fix anything - in fact it can make it worse - so allocating "worry time" each day allows you to spend the rest of your day more productively at work and leave your worries for later.

Setting hourly work goals can help you focus at work - break down your shift and your daily goals into small targets and set out to achieve each one.

Contributing to the support effort can restore your sense of empowerment in times that feel out of control.

And don't be afraid to seek support and professional help regardless of whether you have been directly affected by the fires or not.

We are all in this together and each of us matter.

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

"And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocateat impressability.com.au