Bushfire Trauma & Anxiety

The trauma wreaked by bushfires can have a long-lasting effect. Shock, fear and devastation lead to anxietystresssleeplessnessanger and a terrible feeling of grief.

Trauma might not surface until many weeks or months after the fires have been extinguished and people are trying to put their lives back together. It’s then that the emotional impact starts to surface.

If you are affected by bushfires and you find it difficult to cope, we can make a profound difference in your life.

Symptoms of stress and anxiety caused by bushfires

A stressful situation that continues for weeks triggers a cascade of hormones which can:
  • make the heart pound
  • our muscles tense
  • interfere with sleep
  • make us irritable
  • make us forgetful, distracted and anxious
  • make us cry frequently or for no reason

These hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, increase our fight, flight or freeze reaction. It’s our body’s way of preparing for dangerous or harmful situations.

Reducing stress and anxiety

If your stress levels are high and you’re feeling restless, distracted, numb, anxious and/or reactive, it’s important to settle down the sympathetic nervous system – your alert system. When stress continues over weeks, as it has, the alert system is switched on all the time.

We need to consciously make an effort to settle this chemistry of our emotions through deep relaxation practices, exercise or talking to someone who will deeply listen to you and help you find your strengths and pathway forward.

One of the most effective ways of settling your sympathetic nervous system and activating your parasympathetic nervous system – your rest, digest and relax system – is the practice of deep relaxation.

Join Petrea King for a weekly practice on Mondays 7.30pm-8pm on Petrea King Meditation Group Facebook page.


  • Call 000 if your life is in danger
  • For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyondblue website contains many useful forums and resources


Some of these practices can help you to calm your mind and improve your wellbeing and can be found on our toolkit page:

  • Keys to help you sleep better
  • Meditation practices

You may also find some of Petrea King’s Podcasts useful to listen to.


  • Wellbeing books Including Your Life Matters by Petrea King – a guidebook for life
  • Meditations including Be Calm, Sleep, Learning to Meditate

How Quest for Life can help

It takes strength and resilience to work through trauma, anxiety and other challenging emotions caused by bushfires, and Quest for Life can help through our Community Workshops, Residential Programs and 1-day Living-Mindfully Workshops.


Through a generous donation, Quest will deliver a program of FREE Bushfire Recovery workshops in 2020 to meet the needs of communities affected by bushfires.

If you would like to speak to us about arranging or sponsoring a workshop for your community, please contact us via email.

View Community Workshops for fire-affected communities


These 5-day programs have helped thousands of people to recover from their challenging emotions and trauma in all kinds of situations such as natural disasters, death, disease, loss, divorce, depression, and anxiety.

People badly affected by fires are welcome to attend at no cost due to a donation.

  • Healing Your Life provides you with a wealth of practical skills and strategies for overcoming anxiety and other challenging emotions in a confidential and safe environment.
  • Moving Beyond Trauma: If you are living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and want to heal the past and bring relief to the troubled body, mind and spirit in a confidential safe environment, we can help you.

Quest for Life knows how to help: our internal research results show that participants feel better after attending a program and that this improvement increases over time. On our programs, you’ll be nourished, educated and supported to create an environment for profound healing.


Our 1-day Living Mindfully workshops in Sydney and Canberra provide a concentrated dose of what we deliver on our residential programs. Help yourself regain control over your life and move forward towards greater peace of mind and a deeper understanding of yourself and others.

View 1-day Workshops

If you are affected by bushfires, fill in the Contact Form below and one of our Program Advisors will be in touch to answer your questions or to ascertain the most appropriate program for your needs.

It’s now 9 months since I did Healing Your Life last October, and daily meditation has transformed my life. I want to thank you all at Quest. With attention to self-care and keeping track of how I am going throughout the day, I’ve been able to live without anxiety for the first time in years. – Mary