Feeling disaster anxiety?

Hurricanes in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico, earthquakes in Mexico, fires in California — so many natural disasters in the last month affecting so many people. Add the shootings in Las Vegas. So much tragedy, fear and human suffering. No matter how smart they were, and how much they tried to prepare for bad outcomes, the people affected by these disasters had bad outcomes that will change their communities forever.

With so much tragedy in such a short time, those of us who have been spared, may feel like we have dodged the bullet. It wasn’t our turn. Nevertheless, our anxiety over the lack of control keeps growing.I call it disaster anxiety.

We make contributions to relief funds, victim funds, and individuals that we know. We send moral support, prayers, offers of help or volunteer our time if we can. It seems so little.

As Steven Covey says: Focus on the circle of things you can control and the circle grows. In turn, the circle of things you cannot control shrinks. With that in mind, I asked a group of executives how they deal with the feeling of lack of control, the increased anxiety about natural and man-made disasters including the increased potential for nuclear war. How do they get themselves to sleep and focus on things they can control?

Many said they have stopped watching the news. Some have turned off social media. Others mediate, pray or work out. It is not that they don’t care. It is that the anxiety over things they cannot control isn’t serving them.Staying emotionally raw or worrying about highly unlikely outcomes destroys their productivity around things they can control.

I think there has to be a balance. We cannot lose touch with human suffering and we must help as we can. At the same time, worrying that the worst will happen doesn’t help us other than to remind us to take emergency preparedness steps. Once that is done, we need to let go.

Still, when I look at the pictures of Santa Rosa, I feel such anguish. It is a community that I know. It is not different from my own community in Los Angeles. How different are those pictures from the  pictures of Syria. Whole towns destroyed by war. We don’t think Santa Rosa will ever be the same. How about Syria?

This week, please reach out and help in some way, in one of these affected areas, Anything counts. Then, turn your attention to something or someone that you love. Turn off the news, turn off social media and mediate, work out or pray. May it bring you a little peace.


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photo courtesy of wellbalncedbod.com