In my previous post, you were waiting anxiously for severe weather to hit.
Now, it’s here in all its fury. It’s a scary, uncomfortable time. Your stomach is churning and all you’re thinking about is when this will be over!
When severe weather is upon us, we experience weather stress. Our bodies go into crisis mode. Adrenaline starts to flow in reaction to the emergency situation. This helps us take action. We seek safety and protect ourselves and our family from the impact of the weather.
It’s after things calm down that weather stress begins to turn on us. The adrenaline that helped us during, and immediately after, the severe weather may not go away. So, even as flood waters begin to recede, stress levels can continue to rise.
This is when weather stress can be very dangerous.
Unfortunately, we often don’t realize what’s happening. The crisis has passed. Therefore, we may ignore our stress. That is until our normally calm and cool neighbor suddenly blows up in anger over something trivial or we find ourselves crying on the shoulder of a stranger for no particular reason.
Suddenly, we realize something’s not right. We got through the worst of it, but our friends, family and others are still showing symptoms of severe weather stress.
What can we do? Here are some tips that may help you, or people around you, cope more effectively with prolonged weather stress:
Acknowledge that feelings of irritability, sadness, anger and guilt are very common after a weather disaster.
Be patient with yourself and others. People may not act normally after severe weather hits. Like any crisis, this kind of weather causes emotional trauma. Usually with time, this trauma heals itself. If it doesn’t, seek out qualified help for yourself or encourage others to seek it.
Share your experiences with others.
Getting your feelings out about a weather disaster is very important. It helps you feel more in control and less vulnerable. In addition, sharing what’s happened to you and hearing the stories of others, creates a feeling of togetherness in the weather crisis, which keeps you from feeling isolated.
Take good care of your physical condition.
Stress takes a BIG toll on your body. Eat well and when it’s safe, find ways to exercise or get out of your house. Even if you’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do, take time to relax and rest. This can help relieve the affects of weather stress.
Help others in your neighborhood, community and town.
Assisting others in your community is a way to do something positive. When you’re involved in helping someone else, you don’t have as much time to feel stressed about your situation. In addition, sharing the work created by a weather disaster reinforces your sense of community.
Remember to laugh.
However incongruent it may seem to laugh, it’s actually good for you during a weather crisis. Laughter is a wonderful stress buster. It’s has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve the immune system and, in general, make you feel better. So, go ahead and laugh and encourage others to do so too.
Severe weather is a fact of life. When it hits where we live, there WILL BE weather stress.
However, just like we prepare our homes for severe weather, so too should we prepare ourselves emotionally for the impact of this weather. Recognizing weather stress and taking steps to alleviate it is the best way to keep it from overwhelming us.