Living in Florida, we have been hearing about hurricane Irma for over a week now. The schools have been talking about it, and are closing in preparation to become shelters during the storm. People are leaving the state in droves, and others are making arrangements not to come for their vacation. The nation is likely watching the news about the devastation in Irma’s path, just as it did for hurricane Harvey just weeks ago. As we await our fate, I’m reminded about how to manage anxiety in the face of a frightening event.
The press has kept the hurricane issues front and center and created a frenzy of issues in communities around Florida. In our area, gas stations around out of gas. The grocery stores are out of bread, water, D batteries, and many other things. There are no generators to be found, or gas cans for that matter. People are getting ready, and are very stressed.
One of the things I have been focused on is talking to my kids about what our plans are, and giving them enough information to manage through this stressful time. They have heard things at school, and my youngest is very nervous. We are working on setting aside water, and have a pool full of water to flush toilets if we need it. I have batteries for flashlights, and my kids are aware that if we lose power, that means internet too. I will continue to do my best to make my children aware of our plans, but also let them know that we will make it through as a family.
My husband and I are keeping an eye on the news, and are more optimistic as the eye of the hurricane predictions seem to be moving east, and away from us. We might be spared, but our hearts go out to the east side of the state, that will likely see the full force of the storm. Everyone is talking about the storm, but that is healthy and will help manage the anxiety of watching and waiting for the event to finally be on us. Communication is key to help manage the anxiety.
In working with my patients, we are working on coping skills, knowing where the shelters are and what they are planning for (either stay or evacuate). Agencies around the area are helping people prepare for the worst by providing extra oxygen for those how are dependent, and other supports for the elderly. Shelters are getting ready to receive people from evacuation zones. The highways are clogged with people trying to evacuate and there is a sense of anxiety and stress across the state.
In the midst of all this, I’m am trying to care for myself as best I can, while I care for my patients, support my coworkers, and take precautions at home. I’m getting enough sleep, trying to eat healthy (although had a few more treats than usual), and still working on chores around the house. I’m talking to people and getting calls and texts from friends, trying to find out if we are okay. I appreciate that others are worried about us, and it does help as we struggle through this time. We are stressed, make no mistake, but we are still trying to hope for the best.
I remain ready to protect my family, and also to help my community as needed. I have volunteered to assist at the hospital where I work if needed, with my family in tow (and my puppy). To my fellow Floridians, we are all in this together, and we will remain together after the storm has passed to do what we need to. Best wishes to all of you as we weather the storm. Stay safe!