Wildfires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes… depending on what part of the country you live in, most of us live under the threat of some kind of natural disaster. What kind of mental and emotional toll comes with the chronic stress associated with worrying about catastrophes and other events out of our control? And what can you do to increase your resilience?
For those of us here in Southern Oregon, there’s been an underlying anxiety regarding the possibility of smoke and wildland fire danger. I’ve seen the impact fear of wildfires has had on our mental health as individuals and as a community. I was happy to share 10 ways to optimize resilience despite the smoke, in a recent article for the Daily Tidings. Read it to get suggestions on what to do if we do experience another smoky summer.
However, what can drag us down even more than the smoke is worrying about the smoke before it’s even happened!
Here are the 4 Cs that can help us when we’re worried about potential natural disasters…
Control: Let it go… Peace comes when you accept our inability to predict and control the future. Worrying only diminishes our vitality and creativity. Much of our stress comes from resistance to our life as it is. By accepting ambiguity, the fact that we just can’t know what kind of summer conditions to expect, we can actually feel more secure.
Connection: You help yourself by helping others. Where can you give back some of the support and gifts that you have been given? Don’t neglect your community, instead see if you can volunteer or reach out to help others in need.
Challenges: They should be embraced, not feared. When we experience difficulties, we have the opportunity to grow. Think back about challenges you’ve already successfully met, and then gain strength and insight from that awareness.
Conversation: Our words to ourselves and others have power. Don’t participate in the “isn’t it awful” conversations with friends and acquaintances. Instead, share what you have been doing and enjoying despite the challenge. And having a sense of humor about it never hurts!
We can’t control mother nature but we do have control over our attitude. By implementing these suggestions you’ll find it much easier to maintain a healthy optimistic perspective, even if we do experience another difficult and smoky fire season.
Your Optimism Challenge:
Look for the silver lining and take advantage of the beautiful days we do have. Enjoy your summer – whether it’s indoors or outdoors! If you could use support in staying optimistic, please contact me to set up a counseling session. As always, I appreciate your feedback, questions or comments you share with me at healthyoptimism.com/contact.