Recover, Restore, Revitalize

We have all been touched by the intense events of the last year or so, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, and then the destruction caused by the CZU Lightning Fire Complex. The emotional toll of disaster is often as devastating as the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business, or personal property.

While the impacts of both COVID and the fires are still with us, we can also look to ways to recover and find peace.

Tips for General Health

  • Pace yourself and set priorities. Don’t try to do too much at once.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Remember to drink enough water.
  • Eat well.
  • Take breaks and make time to unwind. Participate in activities you enjoy.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Move your body as much as possible.

Catching Our Breath

Since breathing is usually an automatic function, we tend to take it for granted, unless something like illness or poor air quality makes us think about it. As it turns out, we can consciously engage with our breath to significantly increase our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Deep breathing is a powerful tool to lower stress. Things that happen when we are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, high blood pressure and feelings of anxiety, can decrease as we breathe deeply to relax.

There are many types of breathing exercises, and they are easy to learn. Many take only a short time and can be done almost anywhere. Here are a few you may want to try.

Belly Breathing

Easy and relaxing. Try this for 3 to 10 breaths any time you want to relieve stress. Take your time.

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Let your belly push your hand out, while keeping your chest still.
  4. Breathe out through pursed lips as though whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to gently push all the air out.
  5. Notice how you feel afterwards.

4-7-8 Breathing

A variation on belly breathing. Repeat 3 to 7 times, or until you feel calm. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

  1. Put one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
  2. Take a deep, slow breath into your belly; count to 4 as you breathe in.
  3. Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.
  4. Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to 8.
  5. Notice how you feel afterwards.

Roll Breathing

Use this for instant relaxation whenever you need it! Helps you to develop full use of your lungs and to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. You can do roll breathing in any position, but when learning it is best to lie on your back with your knees bent. With regular practice you will be able to it anywhere.

  1. Put your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest. Notice how your hands move as you breathe in and out.
  2. Practice filling your lower lungs by breathing so that your "belly" (left) hand goes up when you inhale, and your "chest" (right) hand remains still. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Do this 8 to 10 times.
  3. When you have filled and emptied your lower lungs 8 to 10 times, add the second step to your breathing: inhale first into your lower lungs as before, and then continue inhaling into your upper chest. Breathe slowly and regularly. As you do so, your right hand will rise, and your left hand will fall a little as your belly falls.
  4. As you exhale slowly through your mouth, make a quiet, whooshing sound as first your left hand and then your right hand fall. As you exhale, feel the tension leaving your body as you become more and more relaxed.
  5. Practice breathing in and out in this way for 3 to 5 minutes. Notice that the movement of your belly and chest rises and falls like the motion of rolling waves.
  6. Notice how you feel afterwards.

Note: Some people get dizzy the first few times they try roll breathing. If you begin to breathe too fast or feel lightheaded, slow your breathing. Get up slowly.

Finding Peace

Connect with others
Share your concerns and feelings. Talking to others who accept and understand your feelings can be very helpful. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or faith leader and talk about how you are doing.

Move your body

Most any kind of movement is a great way to relieve stress. Try deep breathing (see above), gentle stretching, and walking. Getting out in nature can be especially healing as conditions allow. There are many online options available (and many are free) for yoga, home workouts, strength training, and other physical activities.


This simple practice, which is available to all, can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity, and promote happiness. Learning how is straightforward, and the benefits can come quickly. Many free resources are available to learn a variety of practices that provide significant benefits for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Seek help when needed

If distress impacts your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a counselor or therapist, clergy member, or doctor, or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 800-985-5990.

Kid Stuff

Children of all ages may have strong emotions after a disaster. The combination of the cumulative restrictions on all aspects of our lives from COVID-19 precautions, and the destruction from wildfire in our County, can affect all members of our families.

Some families are able to return to normal routines quickly, while others are dealing with loss and damage to home and possessions, finding new housing, and financial hardships.

After a disaster, children look to the adults around them to see how they should feel and react. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Try to stay calm and provide comfort
  • Answer questions honestly at the appropriate developmental level
  • Be patient with changes in behavior
  • Provide reassurance and a daily routine

The tips above on breathing, meditation, and other ways to care for yourself can help you with your own wellbeing and coping and may also be useful for kids as appropriate.

Here for Each Other is a comprehensive family guide produced by Sesame Street in Communities to provide support for children impacted by emergencies. You will find ideas on how to create a calm environment for your child, how to recognize persisting signs of stress and comforting ways to answer common questions. The guide also provides ideas for activities such as drawing, games, and singing.

Resources and Links