Coping with Holiday Stress After Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Release Date Release Number
Release Date:
November 22, 2017

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Holidays can bring about stress any year, but hurricanes add a whole new level of uncertainty and frustration. Typical holiday stresses, like trying to gather loved ones together, are compounded by new challenges like lack of housing security. With these new obstacles it is more important than ever to check on the emotional wellbeing of yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Being aware of the signs of stress can help guide everyone to healthy ways of relieving that stress.

It is normal to feel sad after bad things happen. It is a sign of strength to reach out to others so you will be healthy enough to help the people you care about.

Typical signs of holiday-related stress:

  • Feeling sad during the holiday season.
  • Feeling physically and mentally drained.
  • Struggling to communicate with others or having difficulty answering questions.
  • Excessive worry.
  • Having difficulty making decisions or concentrating.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Increased use of alcohol or other substances.

Coping with stress:

  • Talking about your feelings with loved ones and friends.
  • Seeking help from professionals trained in stress counseling.
  • Helping someone in need of a ride, friend, or food.
  • Taking the time to listen to others in need.
  • Establishing new daily routines.
  • Trying to maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep.
  • Including physical exercise and periods of relaxation into your daily routine.
  • Reassuring children they are safe, and allowing them to talk about their fears when they are ready.

If you or a loved one is feeling down, has excessive worry, is feeling or acting unsafe, please call the Crisis Counseling hotline, open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, at 1-800-981-0023, or TTY 1-888-672-7622. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention hotline for assistance at 1-888-628-9454.


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS - Video Relay Service). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish). TTY: 800-462- 7585.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters, which can cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged real estate and personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

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Last updated March 18, 2021