With Dorian at Florida’s doorstep, it’s normal to feel anxious about the impending storm. The panhandle’s hearts and property haven’t yet healed from the damage done by Hurricane Michael. Hurricanes can be devastating and dangerous, so the anxiety involved is warranted. But there some thing you can do that may reduce anxiety, worry, and the physical symptoms too.
1. Be prepared
Worry has a purpose: to keep us prepared for danger. Decide if you will stay or go (or decide when you will decide). If you are staying, get supplies, have water, be ready. When worries hit, after you are prepared, remind the worry that you have a plan and you are prepared.
2. Limit forecast checking
Of course you need to be aware of relevant updates but obsessively checking weather reports only increases the frequency of worry. Even if some forecasts seem to decrease anxiety in the short term, in the long term it only increases anxiety. Only check once on the morning and once at night max. As the storm approaches land (one day before landfall), check more frequently for safety.
3. Detach from things
In a tactic similar to accepting the worst case senario, imagine you loose everything but live. Feel the gratitude for life that you would have. Imagine accepting that every “thing” is gone. Now remind yourself that this has not yet happened and there is no way to know if it will happen. The goal here is to experience putting life above materials.
4. Reach out
Reach out to see who may need help in preparing for the storm. Not only is helping others always great, it may also give distract you from your anxiety. Helping others generates positive emotions. Be kind to others in busy stores and gas stations. We are all stressed, worried, nervous, and panicked, we each need gentleness.
5. Breathe into the unknown
Possibly the hardest part about the lead up to a hurricane is the uncertainty. We don’t really know where it will be or how strong it will be. We know nothing.
Will the power go out? Don’t know. Will the house flood? Don’t know. Will the trees fall? Don’t know.
When these intrusive worries creep in, don’t encourage them by thinking more, predicting, or assuming. Instead, just think “don’t know.” Pair this with three deep breaths to aid in relaxing and acceptance.
Be safe fellow Floridians! And remember, it’s normal to be nervous about this.
If you would like additional help with anxiety, consider therapy. To schedule, please call 850-807-9801.