Integrative Health Psychology

Mind~Body~Spirit~Health~Wellbeing~Complementary & Alternative Medicine~and More…

4 Simple Steps to Help You Cope with “Irene”

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There has been a great deal of information available about how to prepare for the arrival of hurricane Irene. This has included how to secure one’s home and prepare an emergency kit, knowing when to seek higher ground, and the like. All of which are well worth heeding. In addition to the above, it is also important to address how to manage the stress that naturally arises from waiting for a storm.

We deal with many “hurricanes” in our lifetime – events that feel unpredictable, enormous, out of our control. The period of watching and waiting for a wild and untamed force to touch down upon our shores (whether literally or metaphorically) can greatly strain our ability to cope. At times like these, however, it is more important than ever to adopt strategies that help us function under stress. Here are some suggestions for remaining calmer and functioning better during times of stress.

1.)    Prepare practically. Information about how to prepare for the (literal) storm is readily available online, via radio, TV, and newspapers. Make lists of what you need to do to related to the above, and follow through. Taking practical steps to prepare can give you some sense of control. Feeling some degree of control can help decrease worry.

2.)    Try to see the larger picture. The most important “possessions” any of us have are our health, safety, and our loved ones. Everything else is both impermanent and of decreasing importance, even though we attach emotional value to things such as our possessions. None of us can ever predict or control everything even though we may want to. Direct your energy toward protecting yourself and your family (including your pets), and devote less worry to everything else.

3.)    Kindness, Compassion, Community. When we are stressed, we can become overly self-focused. Our relationships with others are of vital importance to us as individuals and as a society, and are why human beings have flourished as a species. Reach out to at least one neighbor or family in your area and ask if they need help preparing for the storm. This can involve picking up extra bottled water at the store or helping an elderly neighbor take down their window screens, etc. Helping others reminds us that we are all connected and never truly alone, even if we may feel that way sometimes.

4.)     Breathe. When your worries threaten to overwhelm you, remember that you have faced many, many “storms” before. If you are reading this, you have survived all of them. Bring your awareness to your breath, or to a calming image. Doing even 10 cycles of diaphragmatic breathing causes your heartrate and respiration to calm down. To do this, rest one hand on your lower abdomen and gently inhale. Allow your belly to expand outward as you breathe in, nourishing your body with oxygen. Relax as you exhale. Notice how much calmer your mind and body feel after a minute or so of doing this.

Doing the above should help you to ride out this and other storms.

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