If you live in Florida, like me, you are already familiar with hurricane season. Even if you have not been directly affected by a hurricane, you may experience a sense of vulnerability as you witness the aftermath of the disaster. When I arrived here 25 years ago with my family, I had no idea how dangerous it was until I lost a classmate in the disaster.
At this time of year, learning to manage the traumatic stress of hurricane seasons is crucial for our mental and emotional health. Even if you weren’t directly affected by the hurricanes, you can be distressed by seeing images of the destruction and worry about the lives of people and loved ones.
The American Psychological Association offers the following suggestions for managing your hurricane-related distress:
- Take a break from news. Watching replays of images of the disasters can add to your stress. While you want to stay informed – especially if you have loved ones – take a break from the news.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Some people witnessing a disaster may have difficulty expressing feelings and emotions. In doing so, you can feel relief and gratitude that the disaster didn’t hit you, or you can deal with the guilt that you weren’t hit when so many were affected. Both feelings are common.
- Keeping things in perspective. While disaster may seem overwhelming, it is important to appreciate the things that continue to be positive in your life, it is a source of well-being and strength, gratitude, and faith.
- Find a way to help if you can. Many organizations are created to provide financial or other assistance to the victims of natural disasters. Contributing allows you to participate in the recovery and get involved proactively.
- Control what you can. There are things we can control, there are things we can’t. There are routines in your life that you can continue and sometimes you need to do that and doing so will help you even to avoid to focus on the disaster.
When should I seek professional help?
Many people can effectively deal with the emotional and physical demands brought on by a natural disaster using their own support systems, but individuals with prolonged reactions that interrupt their normal lives should consult a trained and experienced professional. Psychologists, Counselors and other mental health professionals can work with individuals to help them find constructive ways to deal with emotional impact.
If you need help, don’t hesitate, call My Whole Health Life, call 407-203-5090 or visit our website, www.mywholehealthlife.com
Protect yourself and don’t lose hope! God is in control.
Dr. Cleyde Sena Crofoot, PhD. LCCC