Have you ever noticed that sometimes people try to get us to do things by scaring us? The “or else…” sometimes feels omnipresent in our world. I see it a lot in politics (on both sides), in the media, even just product advertising. Sometimes we even do it to ourselves (“I’d better not eat that cupcake or I’ll get fat! And if I get fat then…” and then the cascade of catastrophic thinking begins…)
Do you want to do things because you’re afraid? No? I thought not!
I have a better idea. If it is something you want to do (and that’s the choice to make first!), how about motivating yourself with the benefits you’ll get from doing it, instead of the horrible, catastrophic problems that will inevitably occur if you don’t do it right now? Don’t buy in to the hype. Let’s reframe.
Why am I thinking about this? Well, I used to work in managing emergencies, so I’ve seen the worry and fear that people can have about emergencies, including natural disasters. I’ve seen how important mental health is in helping us recover from an emergency. I’m thinking about the devastating tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma this week, and I’m thinking about the fact that hurricanes are a reality when you live in Orlando, Florida. Not only that, but next week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and hurricane season starts in June. So, I’m thinking about the need to prepare, but I’m also thinking about how to motivate people to prepare without being a fearmonger.
What are the benefits you get from preparing for an emergency? Well, you get peace of mind – you can avoid worry and fear, because you know you’ve done what you can for that emergency! Even if you only planned for one type of emergency, like a hurricane, your plan might be useful in other types of emergencies, like fires or accidents that make it impossible to get home. Preparing for one thing makes you prepared for many things! You might also feel empowered – wow, I was able to do this – what else can I do?! If an emergency does happen, you’ll be able to quickly and calmly put your plan into place, knowing your family knows what to do too! Not too shabby, huh?
The best part is that preparing is easy. There are just three steps: Be informed, Make a plan, and Build a kit.
Being informed means finding out what types of emergencies could happen in your area and learning about what you want to do in those types of emergencies. Ready.gov has a lot of good information on this and Florida’s State Emergency Response Team has put together great information (it looks like a game board!) on the steps to take if a hurricane threatens.
Making a plan is really important. Have a conversation with your family, and talk about what each of you will do during different types of emergencies. Talk about what to do if you’re not at home or not together when an emergency happens. If you can’t get home, where else should you meet? How can you get in touch with each other? If you can’t get in touch with each other, who else will you get in touch with to relay information? (Hint: if local telephone circuits are busy, you can often still get through to call out of state, and texting works on a different network than phone calls.) Once you’ve had this conversation, you can rest easy that everyone will know what to do, even if you can’t communicate. That’s a relief! But just in case, it is a great idea to write down what you decided. This Family Emergency Plan is a great, printable tool to help you write.
Building a kit means making sure you have emergency supplies on hand. There are lots of good lists to help you prepare, as well as places you can buy pre-made kits. I like this one from floridadisaster.org. You definitely want the basics: food, water, flashlight, whistle, radio.
That’s really it – once you’ve done these three steps, you just need to make sure to keep things up to date – change phone numbers as they change, rotate food out before it goes bad, change the batteries in the flashlight – things like that. And every once in awhile, have a family meeting to refresh your memories about what you’re going to do – so no one has to worry!
So remember, instead of being worried about natural disasters, we can take the reins and act by preparing. And once we are prepared, we can approach our previous fears with the confidence that we are as prepared as we can be. More importantly, this tactic can work for anything you’re afraid of or worrying about or anything someone else is trying to make you afraid of! So when you’re worrying: stop, figure out what’s worrying you (that’s being informed!), assess what you can do to feel ready (that’s making a plan!), carry out those actions (that’s building a kit!), and then set your mind at ease – you’ve done what you can to be prepared for that fear. You have successfully reframed the situation, and, better yet, now you’re ready for something you weren’t ready for before!
If you’re having trouble reframing a fear or stopping worry and would like some help, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando at 407-355-7378. Our experienced Orlando counselors, psychologists, and life coaches are here to guide you and give you the support you need.
Be safe, prepared, and relaxed! ~Krista