A week ago, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on states in the northeastern section of the United States. With the number of fatalities currently at 111, residents are still trying to process the effects of what was likely one of the worst storms in the region’s history. Even to this day, almost one million people are still without power and about 30,000-40,000 are in need of shelter.
It is going to take a long time before everything is back to normal. It is important that those who were directly affected tend to their mental health, especially during these difficult times. If they do not, they will find their road to recovery to be very difficult. Here are 8 ways to remain mentally healthy:
Identify positives: This may sound obnoxious but try to point out all of the things to be thankful for. As painful as the loss of property and possessions may be, realize that some people are now mourning the death of loved ones. You have your life and that is something to be grateful for.
Keep in touch with loved ones: This may be difficult right now with power outages still in effect but let your friends and family know how you are doing. Tell them they ways in which they can help you. Keep loved ones engaged to ease their worry and your stress.
Turn off the TV: Speaking of stress, watching constant reports on how dire things are will only make you more more anxious and give you more blues. Turn the TV off and find something more constructive to do. Even if you are a victim, there may be a way you can help others. Check up on your elderly neighbors, bond with the children in your life, etc.
Eat and sleep well: Need something constructive to do? Sleep! Eat! But don’t do too much of either. One of the most common symptoms of depression is poor eating and sleep habits so if you witness a loved one suffering from either of these, intervene.
Stay true to your feelings: You may feel as if you are obligated to remain strong and brave, especially if you have children. This does not mean you cannot express feelings of sadness or worry. Trying to conceal your emotions will only cause more stress for yourself.
Make a plan: Begin creating a plan on what you will need to do to rebound. Research which agencies and insurance companies you will need to contact. If you are worried about finances, you may be surprised by the ways in which you can be reimbursed. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced federal disaster unem
ployment insurance available for victims affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Reach out for help: Do not try to carry the burden alone. Now is the time to connect with local elected officials and community organizations to find out how you can access the assistance you need. You can get help for your small business, insurance claims and finding an open shelter.
Therapy: Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety are common for survivors of natural disasters. Part of reaching out, includes getting help for whatever mental health issues you are facing now.
Participating in memorials may help you find a sense of community. Check Psychology Today and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to find support groups and grief counselors. You have to take care of yourself and it is virtually impossible to do it alone.