Living through a natural disaster will leave long-lasting effects well past the physical tragedy of the event. As one of the worst natural disasters to come to Florida’s shores in decades, the aftermath of Hurricane Ian has left much of the Gulf coast in shambles. Rebuilding damaged buildings are not the only thing that needs to be mended, however.
Many survivors of Hurricane Ian are left with emotional wounds just as present as physical wounds. Experiencing trauma is a very common side-effect that Floridians are trying to grapple with. As a native myself, I am here to offer you hope, and a helping hand. Together, we can begin to cope with the emotional and mental trauma that Hurricane Ian caused.
What is trauma?
Before diving into the relationship between trauma and Hurricane Ian, let us first discuss what trauma truly is. Essentially, trauma is the lasting emotional response you have after witnessing something traumatic. This traumatic event can be anything from a car accident to a loved one dying to being a survivor of a mass crisis, like a natural disaster.
Although there are physical forms of trauma that are caused by bodily harm, emotional trauma is a wound you cannot see. Emotional trauma may cause you to experience mood swings, flashbacks, or other uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms. Whether you develop trauma from witnessing a traumatic event is completely unavoidable. If you have developed trauma, the next steps you take are critical to cope with it healthily.
Trauma and Hurricane Ian
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ian, you may not even recognize that you are grappling with trauma. This is quite common as well. Initially, those who become traumatized go into a state of shock or denial.
By surviving a natural disaster where so many people not only lost their homes and all physical belongings but also their lives, you are most likely experiencing trauma, even if you do not yet realize it. Witnessing so much loss in such a short period is absolutely traumatizing. The important thing to remember is that your feelings are valid, and you are not alone in them.
Ways to address trauma
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to cope with and overcome your trauma. Begin by trying out a few of these strategies to see how it makes you feel. Find what works for you, not the other way around.
- Do not shy away: Even though it will be tough, you must face your trauma head-on. Shying away from it will not help you to evade your trauma. It will simply prolong your symptoms and prevent you from overcoming them.
- Listen to your body: Although we are talking about emotional trauma rather than physical, it is still important to listen to your body. Our bodies are smart, and they do a really good job of letting us know what we need. If you feel like you need more exercise, more water, or less of anything, listen to your body. Sometimes you do know best.
- Work on the little things: Sometimes, there are small factors that contribute to our overall stress factors. A messy room, overdue laundry, a crumby kitchen counter: all of these things can contribute to your feelings of stress. Fix the little things first. This way you can focus your energy on the bigger picture.
In combination with the above, seeing a trained mental health professional will also help you to cope with your trauma. Looking for a shoulder to lean on or a guide through these emotional waters is nothing to be ashamed of; asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. I am always an option. Please reach out today for online therapy.