If you have lived in Florida for a while, you have experienced your fair share of hurricanes. Unfortunately, living through a few storms couldn’t prepare us for the impact of Hurricane Ian. And Hurricane Ian has taken a toll on our mental health.
And while many of us have heard of homes without power, demolished structures, and loss of lives, we don’t hear much about the mental health toll that natural disasters can bring to a community. To add to the challenges, the 2022 State of Mental Health In America Report ranked Florida 49th in access to mental health care.
With such a stressful event having a significant impact on the community, it is no surprise that the mental health effects last much longer than the physical damage. As we all help to rebuild our physical neighborhoods and communities, The Mind Spa is committed to helping heal emotionally from the traumatic event.
How Can I Protect My Mental Health After Hurricane Ian?
Take some time away
Seeing so many photos on social media and in the news can be overwhelming. It’s ok to take a break from TV and social media during these times. Even though it can be overwhelming in the months following a natural disaster, you can rest assured that things will return to normal.
Take care of yourself
Try to keep your body moving, eat healthy foods and get as much sleep as possible. Consider mindfulness practices that can help you address your feelings and give yourself the space to move forward.
Seek social support and share your story
Natural disasters like Hurricane Ian can create strong emotions. Find ways to express your feelings and try not to bottle them up. Whether you are feeling anxiety, sadness, or depression, speaking with others about your feelings can help remind you that you are not alone.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
It may be easy to reach for drugs or alcohol to cope with your emotions. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol can put tremendous stress on your body and make it even more challenging to take the steps to recovery.
Do I have PTSD from Hurricane Ian or another natural disaster?
Many know people were injured, killed, or put into a terrible situation due to the hurricane. You may have even felt scared of losing your own life or your home or at risk of serious injury. These things can cause PTSD, similar to a bad car accident, war, or assault. It is essential to seek help from a mental health professional and social support from peers, friends, and family. You can feel optimistic knowing that studies show that people recover more quickly from PTSD due to natural disasters.
Bonus Tip: Helping Others
As we rebuild the community together, there are many opportunities to help one another. If you are fortunate enough to have the time and energy, volunteering can be a great way to give back! For volunteer opportunities, you can check out VolunteerFlorida.org.
Resource: CDC Natural Disaster Mental Health for Kids https://youtu.be/rgDiRHy-1lo