by Erin Silver
As wind whips lawn furniture around and trees are uprooted from the ground, a hurricane is a scary, even traumatic, event. Whether you’re sheltering in place or with others, it’s important to stay calm in the face of fear. It’s especially essential if you’re caring for little ones; they look up to trusted adults to feel safe and secure. Experts say there are many ways to manage your fear and anxiety during a storm. Here are some suggestions that can help you and your family this hurricane season:
- Have a plan in place. Part of anyone’s storm anxiety arises from the fear of being unprepared. Creating a well-thought-out plan in advance and when you’re able to think clearly will help you feel confident when emergency strikes. Make a list of all the things you need to do so you don’t leave anything to the last minute. Talk with friends and family about your plan and theirs so everyone is on the same page if there’s a hurricane. Doing things like writing down emergency numbers, renewing home insurance policies and re-filling prescriptions can help you feel in control.
- Meet your neighbours. If you have new neighbours, now is a good time to introduce yourself. Exchange numbers and ask if there’s any way you can help during a storm. They will likely do the same. If a storm approaches, you can help one another secure your homes, put away lawn furniture and share any extra supplies. It feels good to know you’re surrounded by a community of people who can look out for each other in good times and bad.
- Buy and pack essentials. Every family should have an emergency preparedness kit that includes things you’ll need during a storm or power outage. These things include a supply of three to seven days’ of canned or nonperishable food for each person, at least one gallon of water per day per person for drinking and a minimum of two quarts per person per day for sanitation. Don’t forget things like a can opener, medicine, pet food, baby formula, batteries, hygiene products, a first aid kit, clothing and entertainment.
- Take care of your health—get proper nutrition and enough rest. It’s hard to function with too little sleep. Emotions can also run high, especially during stressful situations, if you aren’t eating properly and getting enough water. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Take your vitamins, get some exercise and sunshine or go out with your friends for a mental health break. All of these things will help ensure you’re physically and mentally prepared if adverse weather comes your way.
- Be informed. Stay tuned to the news. If you know what’s coming, it will help you feel prepared and in control. Listen to the radio (FM radio channel 100.1 during emergencies), go online to weather.bm or read a newspaper like The Royal Gazette. However, if you find yourself obsessing over the news, it can actually negatively impact your health. If you’re getting anxious, take a break from the news or check it less frequently.
- Take deep breaths, play soothing music, distract yourself or repeat a soothing phrase. All of these things can help slow your heart rate and your mind. Read a book, play classical music, knit and tell yourself that everything will be okay.
- Act calm and in control—it’s contagious. When others see that you’re stressed, they get upset, too. As the head of the house, others will take their cues from you, so try to act calm on the outside even if you’re worried on the inside. Once everyone around you is calm and happy, it will soothe your nerves, too. Then you can focus on getting everyone through the storm safely.
If, after everything, anxiety is still building, speak to a therapist who can guide you through your feelings and help you face your fears—and a storm—once and for all.