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Alexis Youdelman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Alexis Youdelman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Fear and anxiety are commonly experienced when preparing for, experiencing or recovering from a storm. Given the unpredictability of severe weather, challenges in emotional regulation and increased vulnerability are common. You are not alone. There are many ways you can promote and empower a safe and healthy experience living in Hurricane Alley. Here are some tips:

Acknowledge, Connect and Communicate

Identifying symptoms of increased anxiety or distress can be the first step in prioritizing health and wellbeing.  For some, stress response or nervousness is exacerbated by the anticipation and uncertainty of the upcoming storm. For others, it’s the sound of thunder, flashes of lightning or surge of winds.

Connect with family, friends and loved ones while encouraging transparent, open and ongoing conversation around fears and sources of anxiety. This can help reduce symptoms of anxiety while improving the ability to regulate emotions to reclaim a sense of control and established support.

Empower Yourself Through Self-Care

Practice patience and kindness with yourself. Storm stress is extremely common. You are not alone in your challenges. Self-care can be going into nature, spending time with pets, connecting with loved ones, implementing relaxing practices such as yoga, simple breathing exercises and meditation or a calming hobby.

Empower Yourself Through Preparation

It can provide a sense of security to plan proactively. Create an evacuation plan and consider ways to maintain contact between family if separated after a storm.

Prepare Disaster Supply Kits

While stocking up on water and nonperishable foods are important, there are additional preparations cancer patients should consider through these times. The storm may disrupt your medical appointments, but it’s important to keep taking your medications on time. Keep medical supplies, antiseptic spray and sanitization supplies and medications on hand to last a minimum of a week.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management has a full disaster supply checklist available for reference.

Empower Yourself Through Knowledge

Between discussion of spaghetti models, forecast cones and storm surge, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with information. Be careful not to overexpose yourself to the news and seek information from reliable sources such as the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio.

Written by Alexis Youdelman, a licensed clinical social worker at Moffitt Cancer Center