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Healthier Together: natural disasters and your health

Posted at 8:11 AM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 10:11:14-04

When it comes to natural disasters and your health, it can cause a significant emotional strain.

Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says, “There are definite emotional and health impacts due to natural disasters, or severe weather events.”

Khan says in the past few months alone we’ve seen extreme temperatures, drought, and wildfires – things that can all cause feelings of stress and anxiety.

She says when dealing with a disaster, “People can often feel stunned, disoriented and have difficulty processing information, and we know that children and teenagers are often most impacted.”

Emotional support by loved ones is incredibly important during these traumatic situations.

Khan’s primary tips for coping during crisis include, “Practice deep breathing, holding each breath for a count of five. Another trick is to take a quick inventory of your surroundings, identify four things you can see, three things you can touch, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.”

She says these tips can help not only in crisis, but in other stressful situations.

Another way to alleviate stress in dangerous scenarios is to be prepared.

“Make sure to pack up a supply of prescribed and over the counter medications that you use regularly. Keep a list of those as well as the names and phone numbers of your doctor and pharmacist and be sure to keep a copy of your medical identification card for your health insurance,” says Khan.

Having a plan and being prepared will help you adjust and act quickly in the case of an emergency.

“There’s no right or wrong way to feel about potentially life-threatening situations, but it is important to find healthy ways to cope with your feelings,” says Khan.

Healthy practices like exercise, meditation, a well-balanced diet, and a good night’s sleep can do a world of good when it comes to coping with stress in times of crisis.