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Online support group available for Floridians with storm anxiety

Storm-related distress might look like changes in eating and sleeping, along with an increased reliance on drugs and alcohol.
Storm-related distress might look like changes in eating and sleeping, along with an increased reliance on drugs and alcohol.

We’re in peak hurricane season, which for some is cause for anxiety. Especially after Hurricane Idalia last month and Ian and Nicole last year. Peer Support Space in Orlando is now offering twice daily online support groups.

Anyone 18 and older can join the online support group at either 12 noon or 6 pm. Email mary@peersupportspace.org for the link.

Peer Support Space Director Yasmin Flasterstein said the goal is to give people a safe place to vent, share their feelings, and get solutions to their storm-related anxiety.

“So I think a lot of people are experiencing big feelings, whether that's anxiety, or symptoms of depression or PTSD from previous experiences that they've had that might mirror what has occurred to them recently," said Flasterstein.

Flasterstein says symptoms of storm-related anxiety may include problems focusing on work, hours spent doomscrolling storm content on social media, and difficulty sleeping.

She said the calls are free to join.

“So for me, I might be, what they call doomscrolling like just looking at storm dates ongoingly and it's affecting my ability to think about other things," said Flasterstein.

The CDC says signs of storm-related distress may include:

  • "Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs"

To cope, with these feelings they recommend to:

  • "Take care of your body: Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Learn more about wellness strategies for mental health.
  • Connect with others: Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
  • Take breaks: Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
  • Stay informed: When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.
  • Avoid too much exposure to news: Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks."

If you are feeling suicidal or someone you know is considering suicide, call or text 988 to be connected 24/7 with counselors at the988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, dial 911.

If you need help starting a conversation about mental health with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or people in your faith community, check out the Sound it Out Together campaign's conversation starters.

Copyright 2023 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur
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