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Bushfires are a common part of Australian life, and as summer rolls around, they are something many of us have come to expect and prepare for – but no matter how prepared you may be, bushfire season is a stressful time for a lot of people. At Psyelgal, we are a Melbourne-based psychology practice committed to providing quality psychological care and anxiety treatment to the local Melbourne community and wider Victorian population. Here’s our guide to dealing with your anxiety during the bushfire season.
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
When most people think of bushfire preparation, getting your house or property ready for an imminent threat is usually what comes to mind, however, it is just as important that you prepare yourself emotionally. As the bushfire season approaches, it is normal to feel stressed, worried and anxious, especially if you have been impacted by bushfires before, but becoming mentally prepared will help you manage your anxiety and stress during this time. So, what can you do to emotionally prepare yourself?
- Make a Bushfire Survival Plan
Preparing a Bushfire Survival Plan will help you cope, mentally, throughout the bushfire season. It will help reduce the uncertainty and anxiety around what you will do if a threat arises. A well-practised plan will help you remember what needs to be done during a crisis and help you to handle the situation calmly if the threat becomes real.
- Limit Media Coverage
If you have lived through a major disaster, or if you are in an area where you may experience a traumatic bushfire, you are more likely to experience anxiety, grief and strong emotional reactions when you are reminded of it. Seeing images in the media can be an emotional trigger so limit the amount of media you are exposed to during these events.
- Learn Strategies That Help You to Manage Your Stress
Find whatever it is that can help you manage stress, whether it’s meditation, exercise, reading or breathing exercises. This can help you to function effectively when faced with a bushfire or other stressful situation.
- Talk to Someone About Your Feelings
One of the best things you can when trying to deal with the anxiety of bushfires or other natural events is to talk to someone. Share with them what you’re going through and how you are feeling, this can help you to feel supported and can put things into perspective.
- Make Time to Relax
Preparing an evacuation plan, checking for warning alerts, and dealing with the other practicalities of a bushfire emergency may put self-care low on the priority list. However, taking care of yourself and taking the time to relax every now and then will help you to feel better, more in control and give you the extra strength you need to deal with stressful situations when they arise.
- Focus On What You Can Control
When it comes to bushfires, ultimately they are not in your control. Scorching heat, wind changes and other environmental conditions are just some of the things that we do not have any control over, but focus on what you can control – that might be things such as clearing the gutters, pruning trees, keeping a full tank of petrol in the car and knowing your evacuation plan back to front. These actions can help to provide a sense of psychological preparedness for a bushfire crisis.
- Get Extra Support
Worry, anxiety and uncertainty are all normal feelings when faced with an imminent bushfire threat but if you feel overwhelmed by stress, there are support services that can help you. Don’t suffer in silence, consult with your GP and tell them you need more support. They will be able to connect you with a professional who can help with anxiety treatment.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed about the current bushfire crisis, the experienced team at Psylegal are here to help. Regarded as one of the best clinics for anxiety treatment in Melbourne, our psychologists understand that each anxiety disorder is different, and are committed to tailoring unique treatment programs specific to the needs of each individual client. Don’t wait, give us a call today on 1300 79 22 09.