As the seasons change, so can what we worry about. Air pressure, temperature, or humidity may be linked to one’s reactions to changes in weather. In the winter, fear can arise around the ice, snow, blizzards, and freezing temperatures. In the spring, worry can develop around pollen, tornadoes, and hurricanes. In the summer, fear about wildfires, sunburns, heat stroke, and high temperatures can consume us. Natural disasters can trigger worry and panic. No matter what part of the country you live in, weather can be something to worry about.
In recent weeks, weather was in the news when a tornado touched down in Moore, Oklahoma. This tornado ripped through the town devastating buildings, including a school. It caused the death of children and animals. The pictures of the aftermath were disturbing. They created a sense of helplessness in all that viewed them.
Worry can take on a life of its own. Everything can become a crisis. Around every corner may be a possible disaster.
Natural disasters can bring feelings of worry, panic, anger, or even depression. These are normal reactions. Tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, and black ice are all events that can provoke excessive worry and feelings of helplessness. You become consumed with thoughts that another devastating event is going to happen at any moment. You are unable to find a way to slow down your thoughts or change them to anything else.
Some may tell you, “forget it; you’re safe now.” But this message only challenges the feelings that you may be having, and increases your internal turmoil. Although this person may be trying to console you, you may get upset and feel like he or she is not understanding your feelings. Focusing on things that you have control over can aid you in getting things back into perspective.
During and immediately following a disaster, the focus is on sheer survival. This psychological devastation can affect more than the physical or economic toll. Signs of stress can be felt immediately after the event or even much later. Getting some sense of order or control back into your life can begin your healing process.
Tips to help manage your worry in a natural disaster:
- Balance the amount of information you take in about the disaster, and update yourself with only enough new information to keep you informed — not so much that it leaves you feeling overwhelmed.
- Remember to slow down your thoughts and try to focus on positive things. It’s easy to look at all the things that aren’t going right. It is harder to challenge yourself to look at the positive.
- Eliminate or limit the amount of alcohol or drugs you consume either before or after the event. These may temporarily reduce your stress, but can also compound your stress since you may not be able to think clearly when you need to.
- Take care of yourself. Try to rest well and get some exercise. Both will help you to think more clearly and feel physically more alert.
- Talk about your worry. Talking to others about your worried thoughts can help you to process your thoughts better and help you come to a better way of thinking about things.
Worrying about what Mother Nature might bring will significantly impact your ability to lead the kind of life that you really want to lead. If you live in an area that has natural disasters often, or if you worry a lot about things that might happen, developing a plan of action will allow you to ease your worry and have more control over where you focus your attention.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Teresa Collett, PsyD, therapist in Silverdale, Washington
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