During hurricane preparation we make sure we have enough non-perishable food and water, we put important documents in waterproof containers and prepare our house and surroundings. But… you know what we don’t do? We completely ignore our mental health – it is as if mental health was something you just take care last and hope for the best.
Hurricanes can be such a big trigger! It doesn’t matter the category, the track and the meteorologist report because your mind is already thinking of the worst possible scenarios. You become obsessed with the news reports. Then you decide that the report is not enough, so you start looking at the different hurricane models and come to your own conclusions.
Anxiety now becomes panic.
It is at this very point that your mental health starts to deteriorate. Everything is organized and prepared, except you – the most important part!
Shouldn’t you take a deep breath, practice some meditation techniques and use your coping mechanisms to calm down and re-focus? Shouldn’t you embrace stillness for a few moments?
No, that is not what we do! We just keep on panicking.
Here is how you can avoid abandoning your mental health during hurricane preparedness:
Create a list and prioritize.
In your list, include things such as: grocery shopping items, flashlight and items needed in case of power outage, house preparation and safety. Once the list is ready and you have prioritized what you need to do, take action.
Sit down and prepare an emergency plan for your family and pets.
Make sure you include in your plan where to go, and what to do if you run into any type of emergency during the hurricane. Also, prepare an emergency kit. Go here to find more information.
There is nothing more important than to organize your house and plans. Don’t wait until last-minute!
Don’t forget to breathe.
None of the above can be accomplished if you don’t spare a few minutes to practice deep-breathing. Believe me when I say this, it will make a huge difference. You most likely be more productive and less tensed.
Practice meditation, self-care and relaxation.
Recognize that once you have everything organized and planned, there is nothing else you can do but to wait. Use that time to be mentally stable and capable. You are important, and if you don’t take care of yourself, what you planned in case of an emergency will be useless. You need to be in a good state if you want to take action when need to. If you don’t know how to start relaxing, so you can have decreased anxiety and practice self-care you can read there two blogs… here and here.
Utilize coping skills to manage your anxiety before, during and after the hurricane.
The event of a hurricane can last hours, so make sure you use your coping mechanisms. Stay calmed. Understand that you did everything that needed to be done and that everything else is out of your hands.
Don’t forget, not even for a second, to use your spirituality.
I have mentioned before in my blogs, and I will mention it here as well. Your spirituality is a powerful tool against anxiety and depression. Use it – at the beginning, throughout your preparation, during and after the hurricane. Use it!
As a Caribbean woman myself, I can tell you that experiencing a hurricane can be frightening and overwhelming. However, I can also tell you that if you take care of yourself and your mental health; the process before, during and after the hurricane will be much easier and manageable. And again, let your spirituality fill you with peace and comfort.
To my southern friends, take care and be safe!
Hurricane Florence (Sept.2018)