Recovering from a Hurricane

I survived staying put through my second hurricane in eleven months and, like most Floridians, I am now regrouping and recovering from Irma.

For me, the damage was largely emotional. I lost power at home for just 3 days and found respite in my office with A/C and working outlets to recharge devices. My business sign blew down US 1 in tiny pieces. A total of 3 shingles were pulled off the roof of my house. Small branches broke and many of my plants looked like they had taken a beating. Because they had!

Although physical damage was minimal, I felt like I had taken a beating as well. I was already working through a couple of personal and financial crises when the storm approached. Even though I deliberately avoided sensationalized news outlets and checked in only periodically with data-based weather websites, tracking the storm’s changing forecasts was unnerving. Uncertainty is like that.

When the storm raged outside, I reminded myself that fretting doesn’t help. I focused on my breathing. I imagined that my guardian angel was hugging the outside of the house, literally wrapping her wings around the structure for protection. And I visualized the inside of the house being so completely filled to the brim with love, that there was no way the house could collapse. I would calm myself by self-talk like: instead of wondering “what if” something awful happens, imagine instead “what if” everything is perfectly fine?

I would start to feel pretty safe and optimistic. And then that small voice in my head would pipe up and ask, yea but what if a piece of the roof does fly off? Which part of the house do you run to? Do you just go and save yourself, or do you make sure the kids wake up and get to a safe area as well? Do you just go to the nearest closet, or do you make sure you grab the important documents and a gallon of water on the way?

Then I would repeat the process of breathing and meditation and visualization. I dozed off. Then my phone blasted me awake with the warning siren. It was a flash flood warning. I was thankful it wasn’t a tornado warning.

And that’s why I had trouble remaining calm—because the threat was real. I was in fight-or-flight mode. I did my best not to make it worse with unnecessary worry. But our nervous systems are hard-wired to keep us safe, and that means being alert when our nervous systems feel like it’s important for us to be alert.

After the threat has passed, we have to deal with the aftermath. There’s a chemical process that happens with re-balancing adrenaline and cortisol and all the stress hormones. If you’ve ever been in a car accident or had a bad fall, you might recall the feelings of shock and soreness afterward, sometimes days afterward. These processes happen after any kind of trauma.

Self-care is especially important at a time like this. I re-shared a post on Facebook yesterday addressing the possibility of adrenal fatigue—when our adrenal glands are too stressed to help us cope with stress. The author writes, “You could feel some of the following symptoms: more fatigued, then normal, more emotional, less ability to handle stress, have low back pain, hormonal imbalance, restless sleep, low sex drive, dizziness, and have less strength and stamina physically.”

Here are the tips she shared for dealing with adrenal fatigue:

Sleep. Get some rest. If we feel extra tired, we need to give our bodies what they require by going to bed earlier, sleeping in later, and/or taking naps.

Go easy on the exercise. You might be eager to get back to your workout routine, but this is not the time to push for new personal bests. Go a little slower, push a little less, allow more time for things like yoga or Tai Chi.

Release emotions. Cry, journal, meditate, have a massage or reflexology or acupuncture session. While we all want to “get back to normal,” it’s not “normal” to go through a night wondering—with good reason—whether our home/community/livelihood/way of life will be destroyed. We need time to heal.

Take supplements. There are supplements to help adrenal glands recover. While this is outside of my scope of practice, I think it’s worthwhile to ask your doctor or nutritionist about it. And certainly, eating healthy to give our bodies the nutrients we need to for strength and wellness is always a good idea.

The article concludes: “Ignoring symptoms and just pushing through will only make you more exhausted in the long run…. When you go through a stressful incident or experience trauma you need to let yourself heal and recover.”

I agree. If you need solitude, give yourself permission. If you need to laugh with a friend, reach out to someone. People are stressed right now. We need to be gentle and kind to each other—and to ourselves!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth Posted on September 20, 2017

Leave a Reply