As seasoned Floridians, the threat of an impending hurricane comes as no surprise, but it doesn’t make each new announcement any less scary. Living in a hurricane-prone area, you probably have a down-pact system when getting ready for a storm. You know which grocery store will have water, what zone you live in, which app has the most up-to-date information, etc. However, many of us neglect a significant component of hurricane preparation: taking care of our emotional and mental health.
While we can take comfort in being aware of major disasters way before they come close, thanks to satellite and radar technology, this knowledge can also cause overwhelming anxiety and dread as the hurricane approaches. Natural disasters cause significant disruption in people’s lives, and fear is completely normal. As wall-to-wall coverage on Hurricane Ian continues, recognize these emotions and try using these six tips to decompress.
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Losing a sense of control is an ample reason you may feel so much stress during an impending storm. Creating a plan for yourself and your loved ones is a great way to reduce anxiety. Setting an evacuation plan in stone and securing physical supplies like water and food can create a feeling of security. Sitting down and making a checklist or preparedness kit tends to reduce nervousness and help you once again gain your sense of safety.
A seemingly easy yet overlooked way to bring stillness back into your life is reaching out to the people around you. Staying connected with friends, family, and neighbors during this time helps them, but helps yourself. Conversation with people going through the same situation is an excellent reminder that you are not alone and is the perfect time to exchange your best tips. You may also want to place a call to your friend who’s got the best jokes because sometimes we all just need a good laugh.
When we hear of a potential natural disaster, it is incredibly healthy to fear what could happen. However, this fear can be exacerbated to levels that can be considered unhealthy. A likely reason for this push is the overwhelming coverage by local and national news platforms. When constantly hearing about the hurricane, it isn’t easy not to let it trigger you. One way to assuage the chatter in your mind is to try to tune in only when new information is presented. Only checking in during major update periods (the National Hurricane Center updates every six hours) and turning off the TV is a great way to stay prepared without overwhelming yourself.
Try not to let the threat of the storm disrupt your everyday life. Sticking to your regular schedule is a great way to let your body and brain know not to worry. When we disrupt our cycles, depression, mood changes, and other problems are more likely to be triggered. Going about your day will help keep these emotions at bay and ensure sound sleep at night.
Practicing mindfulness with yoga or meditation is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Not only will this help relieve tension, but it is also a perfect time to focus on the present, raise your awareness, and center your mind. Performing several yoga poses can increase your recognition of your thoughts and feelings while promoting relaxation and positive emotions. Afterward, engage in your regular exercise routine to release endorphins, the mood-boosting hormones that positively affect how you handle stress.
If you’ve lived in Florida for a while, this isn’t the first hurricane you’ve had to go through, and it definitely won’t be the last. Establishing consistency in uncertain times is a surefire way to hone your emotional well-being. Try to create a “hurricane tradition” with your loved ones that you can all look forward to when it’s time to lock down. Designate a favorite movie, board game, puzzle, art project, recipe, or any other activity that brings you joy whenever the weather keeps you inside. Each time a new storm is on the horizon, you can draw on these traditions to remind yourself that you made it through the last hurricane and will make it through this one.
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