When hurricanes or tropical storms are forecast to reach us, we often go into a panic and fear the worst about the coming storm. The uncertainty of the storm provokes a certain in anxiety in most of us. Some of those fears are very real, as government officials ask residents to evacuate areas directly in the path of the hurricane. Low-lying areas are especially at risk for flooding.
Calm is a hard emotion to muster when our entire environment is turning against us. It is ever harder to remain calm when you’re asked to evacuate your home, and live in a shelter or with a family member for a few days. Will my home still be standing when I return? What about my most cherished possessions?
Even folks who aren’t asked to evacuate fear the loss of electricity to their homes, and whether they’ll have enough food and water to last the duration of the storm.
What can you do to help stay calm during a hurricane or tropical storm?
We previously offered 9 tips for coping with a hurricane. Here are 5 more tips for staying calm when a storm approaches.
1. Be prepared.
Being prepared ahead of time makes a person generally feel better about themselves — that you’ve done everything you can to ensure you’re ready to weather the storm. That means stocking up on a reasonable amount of food and water, having batteries for flashlights and matches for candles.
But don’t go overboard. While winter storms can keep you home-bound for a week or more, hurricanes and tropical storms generally clear the area within a day, and major damage from roadways is cleared usually a day or two later in the U.S. In other words, you won’t be stuck in your house for long.
2. Know and review the family plan.
Many families live close by one another. Since phone lines and mobile phones may not be able to function, and the Internet may be unavailable, plan ahead with your extended family and friends. If you’re worried about an older parent (or a younger adult in college), let them know how and when you can expect to hear from them. Remind them the phone lines may not work for awhile, but not to worry because you’ll call as soon as the storm passes and service is restored.
Sometimes the Internet may be more accessible than other means, so a posting to one’s Facebook wall or twitter stream might be all that’s needed to let others know you made it through safe.
Here’s some more information about developing a family plan.
3. Accept the forces of nature.
Too often we can feel out of control when faced with nature’s fury. That’s a normal and natural feeling to have — accept it. Nature is stronger than man (think earthquake), and all we can do is button down our hatches and hope for the best. That means keeping your windows shut, removing and storing anything from your lawn or porch that can become a flying object in high winds, and staying indoors during the storm. Make sure your pets are indoors too and don’t go out during the storm.
We cannot change nature, so it does little good to try to. Watching the weather forecasts on the TV or online helps some people calm themselves; for others it provokes greater anxiety. Know which one you are and adjust your behavior accordingly.
For instance, if hearing about the coming storm just makes you more anxious, now might be a good time for an all-day movie marathon or curling up with a favorite book. Catching up on reading, cleaning something you’ve been putting off, or organizing a closet are all examples of activities that can help take our minds off of it.
4. Storms are temporary.
Hurricanes, like most natural events, are usually short-lived — especially when viewed in the context of your entire 80- or 90-year life. If you can make it through the usual fury of a hurricane for the few hours it usually takes, you’re done!
Keeping perspective about the storm can help you remain calm during the storm itself. Sometimes the worst can occur at night; if you can get to sleep, you might just sleep through the worst of it.
5. Imagine the worst that can happen.
A tree collapses onto your home. The electricity goes out. You come dangerously close to having to open your last can of beans. Imagine the worst case scenario that might happen. Then look at how imagining that makes you feel.
Now follow those fears through… A tree collapses onto your home. After the storm subsides, you start the process of cleaning up. Everyone’s safe, the only thing you lost were some material possessions. It’s bad, but you can carry on with your life afterward.
The electricity goes out or you almost run out of food after 2 days. Well, if you followed through on Tip #1, you should be okay. You have batteries for the flashlights, and sandwiches ready in case you’re hungry. You’ve stocked up on water (faucet water filling empty water bottles before the storm comes works fine too). The electricity will be restored within a day or two in most cases, so while it’s an inconvenience, you will be okay.
In other words, even if our worst fears are realized, it’s probably not as bad as our imaginations suggest. Unrestrained, our imaginations can sometimes cause us more problems than we might realize as they are often a wealth of irrational thoughts. Great for writing fiction and stories, not so great for trying to stay grounded and calm in a storm. Answer those irrational thoughts back and you will feel more at ease in time.
What tips do you have for
staying calm during a storm?
We’ve shared our tips, now it’s time to share yours in the comments below!
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From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Can a Hurricane Make You Happy? | World of Psychology (9/2/2011)
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Aug 2011
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2011). 5 Tips for Staying Calm in a Hurricane. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/08/27/5-tips-for-staying-calm-in-a-hurricane/