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    This hurricane season, millions of people along the East Coast and in the CaribbeanHomes and infrastructure have been destroyed, millions are without power, and many thousands are without water. Our hearts go out to all affected by this devastation, and our thoughts are with the first responders and emergency teams attempting to rescue and attend to the needs of as many as possible. To discover how you can help or learn about where you can donate to make a difference, click here.

    In the wake of a natural disaster such as this, emotions run high, and many of us struggle to cope with the realities of our loved ones being affected by this tragedy. Espyr’s team of counselors and mental health professionals want to offer some tips and resources for coping with the stresses of this difficult time. Please read on to learn more.

    Coping with Hurricane

    A natural disaster such as a hurricane can cause a variety of reactions. While people react differently in uncertain situations, some common reactions for those who are unable to contact family and friends in a disaster include anxiety, powerlessness, and insecurity. Difficulty making decisions and irritability may increase. These feelings are normal, given the intensity of the current disaster. While feeling stressed is normal, there are things we can do to improve coping. Knowing what to expect can also help to normalize experiences and reduce stress.


    Emotional Reactions

    Some of us have family, friends, and/or loved ones impacted by the disaster, and many of us do not – but in either event, we are deeply touched by the plight of the storm victims. Watching and hearing events unfold through the media may cause reactions including:

    • Numbness
    • Anxiety, apprehension
    • Sadness
    • Increased vulnerability
    • Fear, decreased sense of safety
    • Grief
    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Irritability
    • Anger

    Cognitive Reactions

    Anxiety and worry can impact thinking and perception of the event in the following ways:

    • Disbelief
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Repeated thoughts about prior disasters or traumatic experiences
    • Intrusive thoughts and images
    • Confusion and forgetfulness

    What You Can do to Help Yourself

    There are many practical things you can do to feel better during this difficult time. Here are some suggestions:

    • Take breaks from the media reports. Staying abreast of what is happening increases feelings of control; however, constant images of the disaster can become emotionally overwhelming.
    • Allow yourself to feel things; the plight of the storm victims touches our emotions. Sadness and concern for others are normal reactions.
    • Talk to others about your feelings.
    • Think back to other stressful times in your life. What helped you then? Can you do similar things now?
    • Spend time with others, especially people who make you feel comfortable, safe, or secure. Ask for support if you need it.
    • Give yourself permission to do the things you enjoy and focus on those things.
    • Try to maintain a schedule. An event such as a hurricane can be an abnormal event and may disrupt our normal routines. By maintaining routines, we can have a greater sense of control of our lives.
    • Natural disasters always put life into perspective for us. It reminds us how our time with family, friends, and our community is what’s truly important. When you surround yourself with loved ones, you feel more connected, safer, and less alone. Take time to breathe, reflect, and appreciate that you are not always in control. Life is full of experiences, lessons, heartbreak, and pain. Practice kindness, and we can all come together in a time of need.
    • Take necessary precautions, but don’t overdo it. A natural disaster of this magnitude reminds us of the importance of proper planning. This is a good time to develop or review an emergency communication plan with friends and family and ensure you have access to essential supplies such as a first aid kit, food, water, battery-operated flashlight(s), and radios.

    How Can I Help those affected by the disaster?

    Disaster relief agencies throughout the nation are rallying aid for those needing basic services, medical attention, and temporary shelter. Charitable organizations recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Association Agency (FEMA) include:

    Tag(s): Disaster Relief

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