Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey: Coping Skills & Back to Basics

HH Back to Basics.jpg

In these initial weeks following Hurricane Harvey, many people are trying to figure out what our new normal will be.  Some are headed back to work, some are helping with clean up and recovery, some are still in the midst of dealing with their devastation.  I think most of us are left with the question, "what the hell do we do now?" 

From what I've heard, seen, and been involved with, people have jumped into problem solving, fixing, and helping mode.  Over the last week homes have been stripped, laundry done by the masses, donations made, and volunteer hours served.  Everyone has been doing what they could to help.  People with damage have been calling insurance companies, having cars picked up, finding places to stay, and picking up the pieces of their lives.  Slowly our city is returning somewhat to normal operations.  Most businesses are open and people are back at work talking about their experiences.  It's a lot to process. 

How do we move forward from such a traumatic event?  The good news is that most people - and I mean the vast majority - will recover from this disaster, even those directly affected.  People are inherently resilient and able to utilize their strengths and coping skills to get through such an event.  We know this to be true from research, and so I've been exploring the idea of getting back to basics.  Right now the best way to help yourself and others move forward is to access simple ways to recover so you can reset your mind, body, and spirit.  

After all, this recovery process will take a long time.  We cannot expect that anyone could keep up this pace of triaged care and resources for the long haul.  I'm sure you've heard, it's a marathon and not a sprint, so we need to train and prep now for the journey we're going on.  

So what does back to basics practically look like? 

Sleeping 6.5-8 hours a night

Watch my video here that discusses why you've been experiencing sleep disturbance in the last couple of weeks and maybe for the next few weeks.  It's fascinating stuff and there are some good tips to get you back into regular sleep patterns so your brain and body can reset.  

Drink lots of water 

We need to flush out our stress hormones and chemicals that have backed up in our system from the last couple of weeks, and replenish our organs back to optimal functioning.  Being in survival mode for so many days takes a toll on the nervous system.  

Eating Healthy Foods

I think you get where this is going...restoring our bodies and brains to the best possible condition and functioning will reset everything. 

Daily exercise or movement 

Yes, again, to get the stress chemicals out of the body but also to bring about more balance.  Many people got stuck inside their homes and experienced a higher than normal amount of worrying and anxiety lately.  This takes place in the thinking part of our brain, and you can alleviate some of those symptoms by activating the moving part of the brain, allowing the different parts of the brain to have balance and work together giving you access to more of your coping skills.  Cool huh? 

Avoid caffeine, chocolate, nicotine, and alcohol

These substances all create a boost those chemicals that are keeping your body in overdrive.  I know you think they're helping, but they're actually prolonging your sleep and appetite disturbance.  

Engage in a Familiar Routine

This will help your body know what to anticipate and prepare your organs and brain for the activity you are going to complete.  Did you know if you go to the gym at the same time on specific days that your body starts to produce enzymes and chemicals that prepare the body and enhance your work out?  Same concept here as your mind and body are recovering.  

Give yourself some time

Remember that most people will return to normal functioning in a relatively short amount of time and that the reactions you are experiencing now are most likely normal.  Everyone experiences situations and reacts differently, and that's ok.  You don't need to worry if you experience it one way and your friend is having a different response.  The range of normal reactions is huge! The more you worry, the longer it will take to see the symptoms go away.  Give yourself time and permission to react however you are naturally, and be patient and mindful with what you need.  

For additional ideas, support, or to have a free 15-minute phone consult with me, call (832) 827-3288.  I'd love to hear from you and explore together how I can help. I'm a Marriage and Family Therapist in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas.  I offer couples therapy, individual counseling, online sessions, and in home support.  

Stay Connected to me on social media:

Do You Have Your Emotional Emergency Kit Ready for 2017?

The new year is a great time to explore goals and resolutions, but more importantly I think you have the chance to improve overall coping skills.  2016 took an emotional toll on many, so get ready for anything that may arise in 2017 by putting together your emotional toolkit.  Check it out here. 

Is Mental Health on Your Wishlist? 9 Strategies for Keeping your Sanity this Holiday Season

Have you considered yourself or your mental health during the holidays?  It's such a great time of the year, but it can be stressful and bring up painful and uncomfortable emotions as well.  I'll give you 9 concrete strategies for managing your stress levels and finding ways to enjoy this time. 

How Are You REALLY Doing This Holiday Season? The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You can probably list a million things you love about the holidays, and a million things that bring you down.  It's normal to experience a mix of pleasant and uncomfortable emotions during the holiday season.  How much avoiding are you doing, and how much are you missing what's important?  I go through 3 easy steps you can take to make the absolute most of your holiday. 

Talk about the Tough Stuff: Thanksgiving and Gratitude

What if you can't think of a single thing to put on your gratitude list this year?  When you're going through something hard, being grateful can be draining and feel impossible.  I explore the role of pain, gratitude, and numbing in my latest post, and how to make the most of these feelings as the holidays approach. 

What is Infertility Counseling?

Have you ever heard of infertility counseling?  Not many people have.  It's something kind of new in terms of therapy, but I've found it to be incredibly effective with people going through infertility.  There are so many emotions and symptoms that come in and out during this journey.  You deserve support, guidance, and acceptance during this process, and a qualified infertility counselor can provide that. 

The Postpartum Couple: What Will Happen To Us?

It's hard to know what will really happen to your relationship after you've had a baby.  Conflict increases for practically every couple and most people are shocked by this.  They don't know how to handle it and start to stress out, which results in even more fighting.  I talk about some things that will happen postbaby, how to move on from conflict, and give you an exercise to see quick improvement in your relationship. 

What to Expect When You're Not Expecting

Have you ever thought about what it's like to go through infertility until you're facing infertility?  Probably not, unless you have someone close to you that went through it too.  Either way, it's hard to know what to expect from this experience.  This post explores some of this common issues that people are faced with on their infertility journey.  Things will play out differently for everyone, but this will give you an overview of what you may encounter along the way. 

What I Learned About Therapy by Googling "How to Apply Lipstick"

Have you ever been afraid to ask a stupid question?  If everyone else just knows how to do something, what does it mean about you that you don't know how to do it?  And even more, what if it's something really simple?  This week I'm diving into a personal experience of googling "how to apply lipstick" and diving into the lessons I learned about therapy from this experience.  Asking for help can be hard, especially when it's something we feel like we should know.  A couple of take aways from my experience, you are not alone (wait until you learn how many results came up from my google search), no one takes what you know and where you are in that process for granted, and gaining support is essential. 

Infertility Talk: How to Deal with a "Blamer"

The blamer: the person who isn't afraid to ask the questions, who's comfortable hearing the uncomfortable, and sometimes lacks sensitivity.  When you're going through infertility, you'll be met with many different responses.  People won't always say the right things, but understanding their intentions can help diffuse the situation and guide you both in moving forward in a supportive way.  It may feel like you can't lean on anyone, like no one understands you, but if you let someone in they can be there for you.  In this post, I talk about ways to deal with a blamer and turn hurtful conversations into helpful ones.  

Infertility Talk: How to Deal with an "Existentialist"

Continuing the series, this week I talk about the third type of responder-the "existentialist".  The existentialist is the everything happens for a reason kind of person, helpful in many ways, hurtful in others.  I have some concrete strategies for how to deal with an existentialist and help them meet you where you are, as well as honor your feelings at the present time. 

Infertility Talk: How to Deal with a Minimizer

"At least you are able to spend time together as a couple now before you have kids."  This comment has been repeated over and over to people going through infertility, as well as "it's going to be ok" "it'll work out, just relax."  In this post I discuss my second type of well-intentioned but a little off base responder: the "minimizer".  I share what minimizing does, how these people are trying to help, and strategies for how to deal with them. 

Infertility Talk: How to Deal with a "Fixer"

Even if you aren't going through infertility, I bet you've come across a "fixer"...that person that is already 10 steps ahead and into problem solving mode before you've even finished your sentence.  Fixers can be great supporters and awesome friends to have by your side, but there are situations where they're just plain hard to deal with.  I'll give you some concrete tips on how to deal with fixers to avoid hurt feelings, sadness, and prevent resentments. 

"Am I Allowed to Curse in Here?" - Become an Authentic Client

Have you ever asked your therapist if you're allowed to curse in therapy?  Or apologized when you started crying?  I encourage my clients to express themselves the way they need to in that moment.  Anything else is guarded and gets in the way of therapy.  In my latest post I talk about some other reasons this is important and why being your authentic self will help. 

When You Can't Stop Arguing

Do you feel like fighting is the enemy in your relationship?  Are you ready to stop fighting all together?  My latest post offers some different ways to think about conflict and why your relationship has gotten to where it is.  Don't give up, and never stop fighting for your marriage. 

How Snicker's Can Help You be a Better Parent

Ever wonder how Snicker's bars can make you a better parent?  Have you seen that commercial, "you aren't yourself when you're hungry?"  I'll tell you about a technique that will help you to stop and think before you start yelling or disciplining your kids in a way that doesn't feel like you.  It's easy to lose your patience at times, but this is a way to remember to HALT before you say something you can't take back.  

How to #StartAsking About Infertility

It's National Infertility Awareness Week and the theme is "Start Asking".  I hope to increase awareness of issues faced by the infertility community, but also would like to help those who find themselves in a supportive role learn how to start asking the right questions and begin having meaningful conversations around this painful topic.  Read here to learn more.  

How Do I Know If Therapy is Working?

Ever wonder how you should be measuring progress in therapy?  How will you know if therapy is working?  What are the signs?  After all, you don't want to be in therapy forever, so you need to know when it is working, when it's worked, and when it might be time to look at another therapist or treatment option.  This post explores some things you will notice as a client if therapy is successful.

3 Easy Exercises for Overcoming Parenting Overwhelm

It's really easy to get overwhelmed as a parent.  Your kids are driving you crazy, you have no time to take care of yourself, how is the house going to get clean?  In this post, I share 3 easy exercise to reduce overwhelm and help you feel more confident and in control as a parent.  You're doing a great job, and these tips will help you recognize that.

5 Things to Expect in Your Relationship After Having a Baby

Ever wonder what happens in your relationship after you bring the baby home?  Isn't it blissful?  In many ways, it's the most wonderful time.  In other ways, there are some challenges to deal with.  But in the end, there are wonderful opportunities to grow as partners and parents.  Read my post to learn more.