The Stress of Severe Weather
This kind of prolonged stress can lead to bouts of depression. You may be experiencing PTSD if you have flashbacks, the sensation that you are right back in the situation, and all the emotions that go with it. Emotional scars often take longer to heal than physical ones. It may be hard to talk about it because some people have moved on from it. You might feel embarrassed to say that it’s still got you down. You may not know how you are going to get through the rest of the severe weather season in this kind of mental state.
Any kind of stress from severe weather season can become overwhelming. Getting yourself prepared can give you a better sense of control. Any control you have can help you stay calm in the moment of high drama. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Get your supplies ready. Have the proper physical supplies and safe location ready before the season starts. If you need to clean out that basement closet again, then now is the time to do it. Get out your flashlights, check batteries, get extra blankets for cover, and get a few containers of nonperishable food like nuts, crackers, and dried fruit.
You really don’t want to be racing around the house trying to find batteries for the radio while the sirens are blaring. You can’t stop the storm from doing what it will do. But you can make the safety plan simple and quick. That gives you the best chance to be as safe as you can.
- Get your distractions ready. Along with your physical supplies, make either a physical or mental list of some self-calming activities. Does deep breathing help you? Would you be comforted by a few religious items? Do you have small children who need distraction? These might be simple rhyming games, small reminder notes, or even a deck of cards.
Sometimes a tornado warning means you need to be in a safety area for several minutes on end. High emotion will keep you focused for a short while. But if it becomes prolonged, stress can get the better of you and those with you. Again, relaxation won’t change the path of the storm, but it can affect how well you endure the waiting process. Even if nothing bad happens, several minutes of feeling highly nervous and agitated can affect you long after the tornado warning has expired. If you are a parent, your children will sleep better that night if they see you as calm and reassuring.
- Talk to someone. If you find that your stress and emotions have taken over, it might be time to seek help. Sometimes just talking to a pastor or close friends can help. If not, a short period of mental health counseling may be more useful. One thing to keep in mind – it’s best not to make rash decisions when severe weather stress is running high. You may be using your emotions to make your choices rather than your good sense.
The tornado and hurricane seasons can be long and grueling. How many times can you board up your windows week after week? How many times must you go track the radar, hear the siren go off at all hours, and drag sleeping children to the basement? It can seem never-ending, prompting frustration and emotional exhaustion. You may not be able to avoid all the stress that comes from severe storms, but you can make it through until the storm clouds finally roll out of town.
Krull, E. (2013). The Stress of Severe Weather. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 11, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-stress-of-severe-weather/