Counseling and Student Development Center offers help to manage distress

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Mar 16, 2011

For students, especially those who have family and friends living in regions affected by the recent earthquake, it can be distressing and overwhelming to hear about and see news coverage of the devastation that has occurred in Japan. Everyone responds differently to a traumatic event - shock, denial, depressed mood, irritability, and anxiety are all normal responses to a disaster of this intensity and whatever you may be feeling is understandable.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, concentrating in class, or feeling sad and need someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to contact the UH Mānoa Counseling and Student Development Center – they have trained counselors on staff who are here to help in a confidential environment.  
Please call (808) 956-7927 or you can walk in to the Counseling and Student Development Center located at the Queen Liliʻuokalani Center for Student Services Room # 312 and let the receptionist know that you would like to see a counselor immediately.
The following tips for managing distress have been adapted from the American Psychological Association (APA;
  • Take a break from the news.  Watching endless replays of footage from the disaster can make your stress even greater. Although you will want to keep informed – especially if you have loved ones in earthquake-affected areas – taking a break from watching the news can lessen your distress. 
  • Control what you can. There are routines in your life that you can continue such as going to work or school and making meals. It is helpful to maintain these routines and schedules to give yourself a break from constantly thinking about the earthquake.
  • Engage in healthy behaviors. Eat well-balanced meals, engage in regular exercise like going for a long walk, and get plenty of rest. Bolstering your physical well-being is good for your emotional health and can enhance your ability to cope.  
  • Keep things in perspective. While an earthquake can bring tremendous hardship and loss, remember to focus on the things that are good in your life. Persevere and trust in your ability to get through the challenging days ahead.
  • Find a productive way to help if you can.  Many organizations are set up to provide various forms of aid to survivors. Contributing or volunteering is a positive action that can help you to make a difference.
  • Strive for a positive outlook.  Many people who have experienced tragedy find that they grow in some respect as a result of persevering through the hardship. Over time, people can discover personal strengths and develop a greater appreciation for life.   
Strategies such as these may be enough to help you get through this difficult time. However, it is also extremely common for students to have difficulty managing their reactions to events such as the recent earthquake.