Experts share ways to combat severe weather stress, anxiety

Experts share ways to combat stress and anxiety from severe weather. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 7:45 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A strike of lightning, the roar of thunder, gusty wind or even a possible tornado are enough to cause some people to panic.

“Anytime you have something where it’s out of your control, or you have a potential life-threatening situation, it’s scary,” said Donna Leslie, executive director of the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority.

She explained it is common to get anxious during severe weather, even for folks who do not typically struggle with anxiety.

“That’s why we’re here,” Leslie said. “You know, we try to help people to be able to navigate that and try to kind of plan ahead.”

The mental health leader recommends having a plan in place. You should know who your emergency contacts are and where to seek shelter. She also added it is helpful to be near someone who can remain calm for the group.

“If you have more than one person in your household, who’s going to be the person that is not going to panic, like have somebody who’s the person in charge,” Leslie said.

When your adrenaline is pumping you may not be thinking straight.

The topic of severe weather and stress is a conversation parents should have with their children, according to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

“These can be very scary events, and they’re going to see adults scared and it’s important for them to know that that’s normal,” Alabama EMA deputy director Jonathan Gaddy said.

EMA officials recommend you remain weather aware and seek care if you become anxious.

“Having that support network, whether it’s a friend, a member of the clergy, or somebody that’s a mental health professional, never hesitate to reach out and just let them know what your experiences are,” Gaddy said.

Storm related stress is common, and you do not have to deal with it alone. People can call the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority 24 hours a day to speak with a crisis therapist. A mobile crisis team can come to you for assistance.

The organization’s contact is 334-279-7830.

The Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority also plans to open a new crisis center on May 16.

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