Weathering the Storm: How to Ease Anxiety During Severe Weather

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Know someone with severe weather anxiety? These tips may help!

 

 

My favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. At age two, I had a stuffed animal named Toto, and, as an eleven-year-old, when my family moved to Kansas, it felt like it was meant to be. It’s also ironic because this version of Dorothy is TERRIFIED of tornadoes, and she landed right in tornado alley.

 

 

Scratch that. I should say, I was terrified. I won’t say I like tornadoes or storms now, but I’m no longer crying as soon as the sirens go off. So, how did I combat my severe weather anxiety? I faced it head-on. It didn’t come as a surprise that my daughter also loves The Wizard of Oz and struggles with weather anxiety. Perhaps watching a movie with a scary tornado that drops a house on a witch as a child wasn’t a good idea?! Like mother, like daughter.

 

Do you have a child with weather anxiety? Here are some tactics that have helped my daughter and me:

 

Create a safe spot.

 

In the Midwest, the usual response to a tornado siren is to go outside and look at the sky. I’m not sure who started this, but I hate them. My parents did that while I retreated to the basement, streaming tears. In each house we lived in, I had a safe spot where I kept pillows, blankets, and supplies. We all feel calmer when we feel safe.

 

There was a small closet under the basement stairs in one home that my parents let me take over. Find a spot (in a safe location) and let your child make it feel comfy. Grab pillows, blankets and decorate the walls with images that make the child happy. Stock it with supplies like a flashlight, weather radio, and other items that ready.gov suggests.

 

Talk about the weather and the fear.

 

Fear is an emotional response based on a perceived threat. Talk about the weather regularly, especially as we enter severe weather season. Find videos and check out books from the library to learn more about them. Practice what you would do if there were a storm coming. Storms don’t seem as threatening if you start to understand the science behind them.

 

My first job out of college was at a TV news station. It was there that my weather anxiety started to subside, and it was out of necessity. The first time there was a tornado warning while working, I felt a bit anxious, but as severe weather season continued, it got better. Working in the control room during wall-to-wall tornado warning coverage meant I learned about squall lines, wall clouds, and supercells. The beauty of being in that environment is I had meteorologists on hand to track weather patterns, and I knew about the warnings before the sirens even went off.

 

 

I absolutely loved the meteorologists that I worked with. Each one took time to answer questions I had regarding severe weather. One time, they even sent me out as a storm chaser! I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack when I told her. Not because she was worried I might get hurt; instead, she thought I’d have a mental breakdown. I rode along with a very skilled meteorologist who walked me through the entire process and expanded my view of storms. Luckily, that storm didn’t produce a tornado.

 

When in doubt — redirect.

 

Stash some coloring books, puzzles, and books in the safe spot so you have something to do with your child if a storm hits. Redirection can be the best medicine!

 

Working in the newsroom meant I had a job to do and couldn’t sit and worry about the situation. I was busy working in the control room to warn the public about the severe weather. The newsroom was also a noisy environment surrounded by police scanners, so many times I couldn’t even hear the sirens inside. Redirection at its finest!

 
While spring in the Midwest is a beautiful time of year, it also brings anxiety, but now you’re prepared to weather the storm. The Midwest humidity, on the other hand … I can’t help you there.😳

 

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Courtney is a tiny human tamer, spouse, advocate, ambassador, and storyteller. And, after years of therapy, she's also unapologetically herself. Courtney is a journalist-turned-marketer spending daytime hour as a Director of Marketing and Public Relations. When the clock strikes 5 pm, the caffeine turns to wine, and the supermom cape comes out. Courtney and her husband, Kyle, are parents to Ruby (born March 2016) and Miles (born April 2018). After a life-changing battle with Postpartum Depression, Courtney found her passion for advocacy work. As an official ambassador for 2020 Mom, she brings awareness and fights for change in the maternal mental health field. As a Kansas City native and University of Kansas alum living in enemy territory, Courtney can regularly be found in KU Jayhawks or Kansas City Chiefs or Royals gear. Her recent accomplishments include earning a master's degree in Strategic Communication from Maryville University in 2019, joining the St. Louis Mom's Blog contributing team, and using humor and self-deprecation to get through most of life's crap, especially, uncomfortable situations.

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