At the moment, Hurricane Florence is battering North Carolina and the state has issued a disaster declaration. Some people have been ordered to evacuate their homes and some have battened down the hatches and are preparing to be cooped up with no electricity until it’s over. Already five people have died.
I've read that lots of people are gathering together to support each other and some of them are turning to drinking and partying to help them cope with the trauma this phenomenal force of nature is bringing.
It’s often when the big events happen (natural disasters, births, deaths, break-ups) that people can feel tempted to escape the trauma of emotion, fear and exhaustion by reaching for the bottle.
But, if we do this, we’re locking in the emotion and fear, which then have to fight harder to break out – and, when this happens, they can create a lot more mess than if we’d just sat with those feelings and befriended them in the first place. We also add to our exhaustion and increase our stress levels – the come-down from the original drinking is worse than whatever it was we were trying to escape from in the first place.
Other people find they can power through terrible events and trauma – that they’re good in a crisis – that a surge of adrenalin kicks in and powers them through. It’s afterwards, as the adrenalin ebbs away and there’s an empty tiredness in its place, that people want to reward themselves with a drink because they’ve earnt it.
Again, this “reward” is short-lived and becomes a punishment in the end. It’s great to reward or treat yourself after getting through a trauma but it’s important to choose something that’s healthy for you and will make you feel good rather than numb you out and make you feel worse.
Far better to cope with uncomfortable and even scary emotions like fear or anxiety by simply noticing them, feeling them and letting them pass. I can’t imagine what it’s like to face an extreme weather phenomenon like a hurricane (the worst we get in the UK is a couple of weeks of consistent snow or a couple of weeks of consistent heat) but I can imagine that I’d be terrified.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Hurricane Florence passes over with as little damage and destruction as possible and my thoughts are going out to everyone who might be affected by it.
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