Keep calm and carry on - Managing hurricane season anxiety
We are in the peak of the hurricane season. Preparing for potentially dangerous weather conditions inevitably causes feelings of anxiety, unease, and at times, outright distress.
When we talk about disaster preparedness, though, we rarely discuss the emotional preparations that need to be made in order to 'keep calm and carry on' during the hurricane season.
Here are a few suggestions for maintaining a level of calmness during the season:
1. MONITOR YOUR NEWS INTAKE
Are you watching the news or listening to the radio constantly to get hurricane updates? This could actually be increasing your anxiety rather than helping you prepare yourself in any way.
There is such a thing as too much information in this situation. Studies show that constantly thinking about the worst-case scenario ultimately makes you anticipate the worst-case scenario, which can create intense anxiety.
Also, remember that anxiety thrives on the unknown - if you keep feeding yourself frightening images, such as videos of flooding and hurricane destruction, then you're more likely to believe that this will happen to you, even though there's no way to tell the future.
Try to limit your weather updates to once per day, so that you can stay abreast of new developments without overwhelming yourself.
2. STAY ORGANISED
Organising yourself and your family in ways that are specific to your situation can help to reduce anxiety surrounding weather events. The mere knowledge that you have a plan can induce a sense of calm and order in an otherwise chaotic time.
We suggest that you take some time before any storms are forthcoming to make lists of items you'll need, so that you'll be ready to take action if and when it becomes necessary.
We also suggest that you develop a hurricane emergency procedure with whomever you share a home. Be specific in your planning. For example, if you live near a large tree, ensure that your emergency plan includes provisions for the chance that a branch may fall and cause damage. Ensure that you consider any health conditions that you or anyone else may experience and make a plan for management during a storm. This type of organisation may help you to feel more capable of managing the unexpected eventualities that can come with a hurricane.
3. BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR WORDS AND THOUGHTS
Notice the ways that you talk about and think about the hurricane season. Are you only talking and thinking about the possibility of complete destruction?
Our thoughts and words can perpetuate anxiety by keeping our minds focused on the threat of danger. When you start to ruminate on the negative, bring yourself back to the present by reminding yourself of the ways that you've prepared and organised yourself.
If you regularly employ these three methods to manage your hurricane-induced anxiety, you will be in a clearer headspace to take on the task of 'keeping calm and carrying on'.
Jessica Thompson, MSc, is a counselling psychologist at CENTRED. CENTRED is a therapeutic practice that offers psychological services for children and adults dealing with emotional, behavioural, and social difficulties. Phone: (876) 281-8601. Address: 28 Munroe Road, Kingston 6. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com