How to deal with hurricane anxiety

Updated: Sep. 2, 2019 at 5:35 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - As officials warn residents from Florida to the Carolinas to prepare for Hurricane Dorian's unpredictable path, some may feel a rush of anxiety or exhaustion kick in.

Many residents who live along South Carolina’s coast are now evacuating for the fourth time in four years and some may feel exhausted from this repeat cycle or anxious if this is their first time dealing with the arrival of a hurricane.

Mental health experts said these feelings are completely normal.

Sandy Quast with Coastal Haven Counseling said it’s important for you to recognize your emotions and also to check up on your loved ones. She says the biggest driver for anxiety is when people focus too much on the “what if’s” and the uncertainty.

“So you can definitely be prepared by having a plan in case the storm comes near you... have a plan , where will you go? Take your stuff with you, if you’re going to pack some pictures and things depending on the intensity of the storm. But as long as you have a plan, you don’t have to think about it all the time,” said Quast.

That's why being prepared is key.

First, create a plan for you and your family, that includes an evacuation plan and a hurricane preparedness kit.

Be informed and stay up-to-date on weather information and warnings. If you’re aware of the latest information, you may gain a sense of control over the situation.

Quast said if you have any fears, make sure you talk it out with friends, family or loved ones, especially children who may be extra nervous.

“If they have a lot of anxiety with that, their heart can race more, they could have trouble focusing, they could have some issues with work. They might be more angry, have some more anger issues, as far as higher anxiet,y can affect their relationship as far as keeping control of how they feel and their emotions. They could do some relaxation things, some people like to meditate, meditation is good for anxiety. A lot of people use an app on the phone called the Calm app, a lot of people use that, it’s a guided meditation. It helps them decrease their anxiety, it helps them focus on their breathing to reduce stress,” said Quast.

Quast added social support is a critical part of coping. So, it’s important to re-establish a routine, spend time with family and friends and engage in enjoyable and relaxing activities.

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