Residents are urged to pay attention to their mental health as recovery efforts continue.
“Feeling stressed in the aftermath of a disaster, especially the level of devastation sustained by the Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma is normal,” said Coordinator for Health Promotion Services and Focal Point for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Ms. Ivy George.
According to Ms. George, the problem begins when we are unable to cope well and when stress gets in the way of taking care of ourselves, family and maintaining our quality of life.
“The first thing we have to do is to be honest with your feelings. Recognize how you are reacting and then take steps to manage your reaction in a healthy way,” Ms. George said.
Ms. George also noted that while feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions to stress, these sustained reactions can also negatively impact one’s physical health.
“Engaging in healthy activities, having a great support system in place and putting problems into perspective can all assist in managing stressful feelings,” she said.
Other suggestions include following a normal routine as much as possible, do healthy activities like eating balanced meals, getting adequate rest and exercising. Persons should also talk about their feelings and surround themselves with a reliable and positive support system and take a break when necessary.
Helping others is also another way to cope following the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. “Persons can volunteer within their community. There are many opportunities locally to help the elderly, children and the homeless,” Ms. George said.