We are at the beginning of recovery here in New York City from Hurricane Sandy and along with our neighbors in Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and the Bronx, we have a long road ahead. Other parts of the country have and are still being affected due to this powerful and devastating storm. And it has been devastating, which takes time to absorb-often more time than we realize.
As a trained therapist I have seen the remarkable ability we have as human beings to pick ourselves up and forge ahead despite the odds. We throw ourselves into fixing our homes, helping our neighbors and finding ways to get back to work. These are all admirable qualities and make us who we are. However, in the rush to recover, to feel that things are back to normal, we sometimes bypass the necessary space to feel what we have gone through and continue to witness. From my psychological experience, I have seen that we sometimes fear that if we were to express or share with others what we feel now or have felt during a time of tragedy, that it’s a sign of weakness or will hold us back from doing what we need to. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
It’s more than okay to say, I am afraid, or what I am witnessing makes me sad, or feel powerless. The acknowledgement of feelings does not trap you in your feelings. To admit to the very human reaction we all have when we experience something beyond our control, keeps us in reality. Being in reality allows for both deep feelings and the ability to take necessary action. Sometimes the actions happen first because we need to take them in a hurry and that makes sense. Yet when the immediacy of danger is over, we may feel other things and that is normal. We don’t have to pretend to feel upbeat if we don’t feel that way. We don’t have to be positive if that’s not our state of mind. And we certainly don’t have to be ashamed that we were or are scared for ourselves and others.
We need to emotionally step through this recent disaster knowing we have the capacity to be strong in body, mind and spirit. The more we give ourselves the permission to feel what we need to, to take take action as we need to, the more we will have our inner selves to rely on. So share your thoughts and feelings with people you trust and get the emotional support you need when you need it. When you do, the rush to recover will be more of a healthy stroll than a sprint.
Here are some ways to provide self-care:
Media Diet-Limit the amount of time you spend absorbing images and information that upset you. Watch for important news but give yourself a break from the constant barrage of information.
Move Your Body-Release stress through some form of movement if possible. Walk your dog, go to the gym, play with your kids out doors, stretch, or jog-anything that makes you feel a release.
Quiet Time-Take some personal time to write, meditate, pray, or do something personally creative that feeds your soul.
Connection-Stay connected to the friends, family and community that offer you the most support.