Red Cross: Flood fighters must manage anxietyPeople immersed in the prolonged flood fight should remember to maintain relationships and look for stress relievers and follow routines to combat anxiety, Red Cross counselors said Thursday.
By: By Patrick Springer, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — People immersed in the prolonged flood fight should remember to maintain relationships and look for stress relievers and follow routines to combat anxiety, Red Cross counselors said Thursday.
Anxiety is a normal response to a stressful situation like a flood, and can be channeled to fuel an effective response to the challenges and difficulties, said Kit O’Neill, a psychologist and American Red Cross mental health volunteer.
“It’s hard to rest in the midst of a disaster,” she said, yet people should remember to take small breaks where possible, and to try to follow a routine.
O’Neill and Jacqueline Crawford, also a psychologist and Red Cross mental health volunteer, offered these tips to help manage stress more effectively:
* Stay calm by remembering your priorities and acting on them. Plan realistically and rely on trusted sources of information, such as the Red Cross or news media.
* Stay connected by staying informed and taking time to be with family and friends. “That’s hard to do when isolated by floodwaters,” O’Neill said. Social networks and phone calls also can be helpful.
* Stay in control. Don’t respond to rumors. Have a portable, three-day kit ready in the event of an emergency. If able, volunteer to help others. Go online to www.redcross.org for information on preparing and getting trained for emergencies.
Parents must remember children look to them for reassurance and security, but have a different frame of reference and more limited understanding than adults, Crawford said.
Listening to children helps them stay calm, she added. After-school and church activities can help.
“So connect with your kids and get them connected to people who are important,” Crawford said.
Now that the Red River is subsiding in Fargo-Moorhead, anxiety levels are falling. But stress remains high for those still battling floodwaters, especially in areas that are seeing unprecedented flooding, O’Neill said.
People can call the Minn-Kota Chapter of the American Red Cross at (701) 364-1800 for help.
Patrick Springer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.