Preparing for and anticipating the arrival of a large-scale flood can be distressing. You may worry about extensive water damage to your home, neighborhood and community. You may face uncertainty ahead about your living arrangements, work and other important life factors. The near-constant stream of news about the flood waters' arrival can give rise to feelings of stress, anxiety and fear. Recognizing these common emotional reactions and taking steps to prepare ahead of the flooding will be helpful in safeguarding your emotional well being.
Here are some simple and effective ways to manage your flood-related fears and anxiety. Many are essential ingredients for a healthy lifestyle and adopting them can help improve your overall emotional and physical well being
What you can do:
Have a plan and implement it. It is important to have a plan for you and your family (including pets) to be safe during the flood. Recent storms have illustrated the importance of emergency preparedness. The American Red Cross recommend steps you can take to prepare: find out about available transportation, relatives who might be able to take you in, shelter locations and other important details. Knowing in advance that you are prepared for flooding can lessen your anxiety.
Get the facts. Gather information that will help you accurately determine your risk so that you can take reasonable actions. Find a credible source you can trust such as your local news station, police or fire department, or state public health agencies. Follow the directions and recommendations of official rescue personnel. Limit your exposure to news reports that show repeated footage of flood damage.
Make connections. Reach out to connect with close family members and friends. These relationships can be a source of strength. Coming together and helping one another can be positive for your emotional health.
Stay healthy. A healthy lifestyle - including proper diet, exercise and rest - is your best defense against any threat. A healthy body can have a positive impact on your thoughts and emotions, enabling you to make better decisions and better deal with the flood's uncertainties.
Reach out to your children. Help children by restricting constant viewing of the news, giving them assurances that plans are in place to keep them safe and maintaining their routines as much as possible.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. Remember that government employees, National Guard troops, and volunteers from disaster services agencies are already on the scene working to minimize flood damage. Also, improvements have been made to your state's disaster response system in recent years that will facilitate response and recovery. Take a moment to recall times when you've successfully managed challenging life circumstances. Draw upon those skills and experiences to help you through current challenges.
Seek additional help. People who feel an overwhelming anxiety, fear or other prolonged reaction that adversely affects their interpersonal relationships or job performance should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers can help people find constructive ways to manage adversity and deal with extreme stress.
Persevere and trust in your ability to get through the challenging days ahead. Putting into practice some of the tips from this guide may help to strengthen your emotional well being.
Raymond F. Hanbury, PhD, ABPP and Eva D. Sivan, PhD provided their assistance in preparing this document.