Resiliency best way to cope with long-lasting psychological effects of Florence

Long-lasting traumatic events such as Hurricane Florence tax our resiliency. A UAB expert shows you how to boost yours.

Josh Klapow 2017 verticalSome traumatic events are short lasting — a tornado roars in and then is gone. Hurricane Florence, on the other hand, does not seem to be in a hurry to move on, and the prolonged nature of the storm with widespread flooding doesn’t allow for anxiety to resolve.

“In many traumatic events, we see peaks and valleys,” said UAB clinical psychologist Josh Klapow, Ph.D. “Anxiety levels increase in the height of the event and then relax as events move on. The effects of Florence, however, aren’t moving on, which means for those in the affected areas, resiliency is key.”

Klapow says resiliency is the ability to adapt and cope with difficult events.

“Being resilient doesn’t mean you aren’t affected by the situation and it doesn’t mean you don’t experience intense emotions,” he said. “It means that you are able to adapt and keep moving forward.”

Klapow says resilient people usually have supportive relationships that provide encouragement, reassurance and love. Other factors that boost resiliency are the ability to make realistic goals and take action to reach them, self-confidence, problem solving skills and that ability to handle strong feelings and impulse behavior.

To boost your ability to be resilient, Klapow recommends:

  • Strengthening relationships with family, friends, co-workers and your community.
  • Set goals you can attain, and then make sure to accomplish them.
  • Find meaning in the situation, whether it be a strengthened sense of spirituality, enhanced appreciation of life or discovering an inner strength within yourself.
  • Spend part of your day taking care of your physical and mental health.

“We are all born with an instinct to survive,” he said. “Building resiliency will help an individual navigate life’s journey with greater confidence and be better prepared to deal with circumstances beyond our control.”