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DMH & MEMA Offer Tips to Manage Weather-Related Anxiety During Hurricane Season

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[JACKSON, MS] – With the onset of the 2024 hurricane season (June 1 – November 30) approaching over the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) recognizes the potential stress and anxiety this time can bring to individuals and families in our state. To assist in alleviating these concerns, DMH and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) are guiding how to prepare for hurricanes while also managing mental health effectively.

Preparation is Key
Have an Evacuation Plan: Develop a detailed evacuation plan including potential routes and contact information for family members, designated shelters, and relief agencies should an evacuation be ordered for your location. Share this plan with trusted individuals outside the area to ensure clear communication in case of evacuation.

Build an Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit tailored to your family’s needs, including water, non-perishable food, medications, clothing, comfort items, flashlights, and chargers. Keeping this kit readily accessible can provide a sense of preparedness and calm during uncertain times.

Utilize Hurricane Tracking Maps: Stay informed about storm trajectories and speeds by using hurricane tracking maps. Understanding the movement of storms can help reduce fear and anxiety associated with their unpredictability.

Limit Exposure to Weather Updates: While staying informed is essential, prolonged exposure to weather updates can heighten anxiety, particularly for children. Set boundaries on media consumption and focus on practical preparation rather than dwelling on worst-case scenarios.

When a Storm is Imminent
If a storm is expected to make landfall in your area here are some things that can help a weather-anxious person feel ready:

Wear Durable Shoes: If you have to take shelter then good sturdy shoes or boots are essential. Put them on when a storm is expected to help you feel safe and prepared.

Charge Your Devices: Power can be unreliable during a storm, so it’s good to have all devices charged ahead of time. Also lowering the screen brightness can preserve battery life on phones and tablets.

Get in Your Safe Spot: Even before a warning is issued, getting in your safe spot with a pillow or blanket can help alleviate anxiety.

Turn on Your Local News Channel: When a storm is potentially making landfall getting updates is important. If weather reports elevate the weather related anxiety then keep exposure to a minimum or have a family member or friend stay updated in a different part of the house.

Managing Weather-Related Stress
In addition to practical preparations, it’s vital to address the emotional toll that weather-related events can have on mental health. DMH recommends the following strategies:

Prioritize Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as exercise, spending time outdoors, and getting adequate sunlight.

Embrace Positive Thinking: Cultivate a mindset of optimism and resilience by focusing on constructive thoughts and solutions.

Engage in Meditation: Incorporate mindfulness practices into your routine to promote mental clarity and emotional stability.

By implementing these strategies, individuals can effectively manage weather-related anxiety and bolster their resilience in the face of adversity. DMH and MEMA remain committed to supporting the well-being of all residents throughout hurricane season and beyond.

For more information on mental health resources, visit www.dmh.ms.gov or contact DMH’s Toll-Free Helpline at 1-877-210-8513. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis call or text 988 to be connected with a trained mental health professional 24 hours a day.

MEMA’s hurricane page is located at https://www.msema.org/preparedness-2/hurricanes/ and it has resources to help you plan and prepare for a hurricane to keep you and your loved ones safe.

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