Severe weather, inevitable impact, and the clean-up. This is usually the experience of someone living through a natural disaster. After the storms caused by Harvey and the wildfires in California, thousands of people were affected by the traumatic experiences. Many people focus on the physical injuries and damage after a monstrous storm, but the psychological effects are just as important and often longer lasting.
Even though we are reminded by the minute where the devastation is going to occur, we are helpless to stop it and know exactly how to prepare for the aftermath. The lack of control and sense of impending doom is dreadful for an anxious or depressed person. The experiences during the event last unseen long after the winds have subsided and the wildfires extinguished. For example, many residents in affected areas reported that Harvey brought up bad feelings of surviving Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Feelings and physical manifestations of trauma don’t need to be suffered endlessly though. Just as we stock up on supplies before a hurricane or wildfires, it’s beneficial to be psychologically “stocked up” in preparation of things to come. Many mental health organizations send out clinicians in preparation for such natural disasters. Of course, there isn’t a guarantee that after the disaster that everything will be easy, but the hope is that the transition and rebuilding process is less difficult to go through. Here are a few things that you can do to prepare for a natural disaster:
- To ease anxiety before an event is imminent, buy or build pre-made emergency kits for various situations so that you are prepared for multiple scenarios.
- Learn and practice relaxation, breathing techniques, and cognitive restructuring. These will be beneficial in the moment to calm the body, reduce stress, as well as retaining some sense of control by reframing negative thoughts into positive ones.
- Develop a list of people in your support network that you speak with facilitate coping after a disaster. Also, finding a mental health professional in your area can be important for assisting with processing your thoughts and feelings.
But even though you can prepare, there is always work to be done to clean up after the storm. Talk therapy is beneficial for processing trauma, but many times our bodies hold onto these traumatic events and additional intervention is necessary. One of those interventions that have been effective is neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback works by training the brain and improving its ability to cope better with anxiety and PTSD symptoms such as hypervigilance, a fast heart rate, poor quality sleep, agitation, anger, or fearful of loud noises. Learning how to calm the body and the mind is the key to returning to normal functioning.
If you or a loved one has been affected by a traumatic event and are struggling to cope, neurofeedback may be a solid way to part the clouds in the sky and see the sun again.
By Derek Russell, MA, NCC – Neurofeedback Therapist, Technician at The Better Brain Center. If you would like to get in touch with Derek please call 833-964-8483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.