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Coping with Post Sandy Stress

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, our stress levels have risen. Here are six steps you can take to start to feel better.

The phone in my Westport counseling office started ringing the day after Hurricane Sandy.  The storm and the massive damage left in its wake had pushed stress levels, already high from daily stressors, to a breaking point for many people.   With the devastation to so many homes, power that would not be restored for days on end, and children unexpectedly home for a week and a half, many people felt like crying, “Uncle!”  As a Fairfield resident and mother of three, I was not immune to the stress that was so negatively affecting my patients.

Stress has become all-too-familiar for many of us, although it may manifest itself differently in each of us: Some fear about the future, have trouble concentrating, have become irritable, depressed, or tearful. Many of my patients are having difficulty sleeping or are even experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and fatigue.  This is all normal following a major crisis, like Superstorm Sandy. But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean we have to live with it. There are several things you can do to help yourself to feel better.

Step One:  Have a good cry.
If you feel like crying, give in to it and have a good cry.  I promise you will feel better afterward.  That’s because crying actually releases endorphins, which are linked to serotonin and dopamine, that have been found to physically alleviate stress, decrease anxiety, and help you to feel calmer.

Step Two:  Call a Friend.
Talk.  Vent.  Share your frustrations and fears.  Often, just giving voice to our feelings can help to vent them, helping us to feel calmer and more in control. Remember, children also feel stress, so encourage them to express their feelings and listen. Drawing and pretend play are two great opportunities to help kids express their feelings.  Just getting it “out” can help them greatly.

Step Three:  Do Something You Enjoy.
Read a book, go to the movies, have lunch with a friend, go get a pedicure.  What you do isn’t important.  But taking care of yourself is. So find some time to do something that will give you pleasure and make you feel like your old self for a while.

Step Four: Take Care of Yourself.
Everything is easier when you have had enough sleep.  So get enough sleep, try to eat well, and make time to exercise.  When you are feeling well physically, you will find you are less affected by stresses, and are better able to help your loved ones as well. If you are having trouble sleeping, try getting exercise in the morning, and turn off the television at least an hour before bed.  Remember that caffeine and alcohol can both interfere with sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. 

Step Five: Step Away From the TV
The constant replaying on the news of events we find stressful, whether it’s the storm aftermath, politics, or anything else, just isn’t good for usor for our kids.  We don’t get any new information, and our fears and anxiety continue to climb as we stay stuck in the middle of a stressful situation.  So take a walk, soak in the tub, or enjoy a quiet candlelight dinner with the family (even if you eat it on paper plates) and create a calm environment that will let you and those you love unwind.

Step Six: Do Something to Help
Donate food or clothing.  Give blood.  Volunteer your time to Sandy victims or to any cause you find near to your heart.  Taking action will help you to feel more in control.  And that feels good.

Sara Victor is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in family and individual counseling, infertility issues, parenting and chronic illness.  She can be reached for more information or for appointments at svictor@optonline.net

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Leslie Yager November 09, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Constructive advice, much appreciated. Thank you Sara
Glen K Dunbar November 09, 2012 at 04:11 PM
1.) I would cry if I could. Tears will not flow for me. ?? 2.) I have MANY acquaintances. BUT, nobody I could really call in a crisis (yes, I am complaining 3.) I enjoy driving to NY to go to Met Opera. guess what??? Afraid to drive too much due to the gas shortage and all the dumb out of state drivers hogging OUR gas and the stations just let them in BEFORE/along w/us. Why can't we take care of our own first. Let em stay in NJ or wherever 4.) I would take care of myself. but, I do NOT know how??? 5.) I think TV is boring for the most part 6.) I have already made a couple donations to a couple chariteis. I have to say..I did feel better after doing that GLEN
Mike November 09, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Glen, are you for real or just joking to lighten the mood? If you're serious: Hogging OUR gas? Who is OUR? Americans? Humans? Or do you mean Connecticut residents? Maybe they should even filter those out and focus on people in Wilton first. Or people that live on the same road as the gas station? Get over it and grow up. We're all in this together. If you're joking: I guess the joke is on me.
Lorna November 10, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Hey FFLDRESIDENT, if you've ever been the target of bullying, ostracizing or cruel stares, then perhaps you might have more compassion for Glen. However, I agree with Mike that the free market reign over gasoline distribution in CT, and we should be thankful we're not forced to conform with the odd-even rationing mandate in NJ.
Alethiologist November 10, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Leave Glenn alone. He is in a difficult condition.
flagirl November 10, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Glen is a fake and a fraud....
Patchmaker November 10, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Flagirl, I can assure you that Glen is neither a fake, nor a fraud. However, based on your pseudonym, I am unclear if you have relocated from Florida, love flags or have a differing intention. KEN
Patchmaker November 10, 2012 at 07:33 PM
FFLRESIDENT, Glen isn't a "depressed, woe is me, how come I get dealt a bad hand in life kind of person." Glen is perhaps he most authentic poster to the New Canaan Patch. KEN defending GLEN

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