Does severe weather make you anxious?
If you sometimes feel anxious when the wind starts to howl, you’re not alone.
“We know that environmental events, such as the floods, tornados, and the Derecho we experienced in Eastern Iowa have been shocking and traumatic for many of us,” said Drew Martel with Foundation 2 Crisis Services. “The effects of these storms can cause PTSD, weather-specific anxiety, and just plain fear. It’s understandable, given several of the weather events we’ve experienced over the last decade, that members of our communities would experience a heightened anxiety response to anything resembling a windstorm.”
Weather-related anxiety is common, especially in children and people who have previously experienced major weather events. Signs of weather-related anxiety include obsessive thoughts about the potential for storms, distress when you know a thunderstorm is forecasted, and extreme fear or dread during weather events.
Coping Mechanism for Triggering Events
“First, we would encourage everyone to take reasonable precautions and preparations for inclement weather, a little preparation can help alleviate some anxiety when emergency weather events do occur,” Drew said. “This might include having a weather radio, keeping a small supply of bottled water, and ensuring your family and loved ones are aware of basic precautions when inclement weather strikes.”
Additionally, providing an emotionally safe space can help reduce levels of anxiety surrounding severe weather.
“It’s important to be kind to yourself or loved ones when experiencing elevated anxiety or fear over impending storms,” Drew said.
He recommends practicing positive self-talk as an important coping mechanism during severe weather and other anxiety-inducing situations. Positive self-talk can make people feel good about themselves, boost confidence, and calm fears. Examples include “I am doing well” and “I am safe.” Self-care during inclement weather can also help alleviate anxiety; avoiding substances like alcohol, acknowledging emotions, and focusing on deep breathing can also be beneficial. For more coping mechanisms during severe weather, check out this National Weather Service resource.
While weather-related anxiety is quite common, for some, it can escalate to a level that necessitates professional support.
“While it’s normal to experience fear during active weather, once it dissipates if you find it the fear or anxiety hangs around, or maybe you notice you are more fixated on the potential for inclement weather to the point that it becomes distressing to you or your loved ones, you may want to consider seeking professional support to address these issue,” Drew said. “Highly effective treatments exist for both anxiety and trauma. Connecting with a therapist would be a great first step in addressing unmanageable anxiety or fear.”
When life gets tough – including during severe weather and other anxiety-inducing situations – our trained crisis counselors can provide real-time crisis support. No matter what you are feeling, we are here to support you 24/7/365. Call 319-362-2174 to connect with free, confidential services. All people. Any time. Every time.