As we recently watched Hurricane Ian make landfall in Florida, these storms not only impact our homes, and our safety, but can negatively impact our mental health. Anxiety and overwhelming fear about what is happening, especially if you have experienced weather-emergencies before, is common.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression brought on by past events or can’t seem to calm your nerves every time storm season rolls through, then you aren’t alone. Our licensed Tampa psychologists and therapists are here to help by providing some clarity on how to maintain good mental health during hurricane season.
Unlike our friends on the west coast who experience earthquakes with little-to-no warning, we in Florida know when a hurricane is approaching. That’s the silver lining here. And like everything else in life, preparing for Mother Nature’s worst can be mentally draining, especially if a past incident brings back tough memories.
To help calm your mind in the future, here are some tips on developing a family emergency plan that might help ease some stress and anxiety before a storm. A few include:
- Memorize evacuation routes and the locations of shelters.
- Choose a reliable source of information.
- Make a list of important items you’ll need if an evacuation order is given.
- Know what your workplace and children’s school emergency plans are.
- Plan how your pet will be cared for. Will they be joining you in leaving home or is a pet shelter an option?
- Review your plans often with family.
Rice Psychology Group suggests talking with your children about hurricane season and what might happen. Do so without using frightening language or details. Ask what they’re thinking about and how they feel.
Learning to Cope
Many of us in Florida, other parts of the Gulf Coast, and up and down the East Coast have experienced hurricanes and other major storms. Whether it’s Hurricane Ian in present day or Hurricane Michael in 2018, weather or storm-related anxiety can make these weather events feel terrifying and without end. Please know that you aren’t alone and that simply trying to ignore your anxiety isn’t the solution.
If you also experience trouble eating or sleeping, find yourself obsessing about the weather, or feel emotional distress just at the thought of a hurricane striking Florida, then it may be time to seek help or talk to us. In the meantime, we recommend the following tips if weather-related anxiety strikes:
- Take deep breaths. Focus on breathing in a mindful way.
- Turn off the news and headlines about the weather once you have the facts. Make a plan and go about your business.
- Talk with a friend or loved one to ease your worries by hearing a familiar voice.
- Read a book, listen to some calming or uplifting music, or indulge in another hobby to take your mind off of what’s bothering Yes, distraction is a great coping strategy.
- Acknowledge your feelings and remember that you’ve survived and thrived in countless storms in the past.
Work with our Tampa Psychologists
If we’ve learned one thing from the last few years, it’s that we have to learn to cope and deal with things we can’t control, like the weather, in a positive and healthy way. If you’re living with trauma from a past experience or certain situations are causing fear and anxiety, then know we’re here for you. We’re offering private, online sessions via telehealth as well as a limited number of telehealth evaluations for all ages. For more information about this service, or to schedule a free, 10-minute consultation, feel free to contact us today.