Recovering from the Christchurch earthquake will be a marathon, not a sprint, says the Australian Red Cross recovery expert who worked following the Victorian bushfires.
Kate Brady will be working alongside New Zealand Red Cross volunteers at Wednesday's earthquake memorial services and says people will have different reactions to the February 22 anniversary of the destruction and 185 deaths following the quake.
She has studied recovery efforts and anniversaries for September 11, Hurricane Katrina, the London bombings, Columbine shootings, Hillsborough stadium crush deaths and the Sichuan earthquake.
"For some, the first anniversary will be a chance to reflect on the achievements of the past year. For others, it will be a reminder of what they have lost and will bring with it a sense of profound grief.
"Recovery is like a marathon, not a sprint. It's important that people pace themselves and make sure their wellbeing is a priority."
The Australian Red Cross had noticed increased substance abuse, violence, and relationships starting to fragment following disasters.
There could also be increases in physical illnesses once the adrenaline following the disaster stopped.
She said it was important people pay attention to their health, as stress can cause ailments ranging from skin irritations to digestive problems and poor sleeping patterns.
It could take at least five years for most people to recover emotionally from the disaster. However, she stresses that most people recover well.
Her advice for this anniversary is for people to think about how the event might affect them, and plan accordingly, whether that means being around friends and family, attending an event, or taking time out by themselves.