Hurricane Sandy swept up the East Coast this week and left millions of people in the cold and dark. People lost their homes, cars, possessions, and some even lost their lives. But for those of us lucky enough to have made it through the storm, shocked by the damage that was left, how do we survive this catastrophe?
How does anyone create a "new normal" after a natural disaster, or life changing event? When the winds have died down, and all that's left to do is survey the damage, how can we move forward after life as we know it is forever changed? Take a moment to connect with yourself. P.A.U.S.E....(purposeful- awareness- understanding- sense- experience). Find some compassion for what you've been through, witnessed, and experienced during the last week. The changes within us began as the reports of the storm hit the airwaves. Our nervous systems were revved up simply hearing what was coming. Television, radio, and newspapers warned of the impending trail of disaster that Sandy would leave behind. The panic was rising, store shelves were emptied, no more water, batteries, food. Then, weathering the storm itself, a two day pounding of wind and rain. Trees snapping, giant branches flying in the wind, possessions floating in the streets, no power, heat, water, electric and cable wires down everywhere. The cries for help, disconnection from loved ones, no phone service, email, etc. Further panic set in two days later as cars lined the streets for hours with people desperately trying to fill their cars with gas. Hysteria, anger, people frantic to survive, to hold on to the normal stuff of life.
Take a moment to consider your own experience, how you personally weathered this storm. How is your physical body, emotions, thoughts, and spirit responding to Hurricane Sandy? This assessment is not compared to how anyone else is doing. It's a personal moment of reflection to give you vital information about what you need in order to create a new normal within you. What will support inner stability as you walk forward into the unknown? Pause to fill up and find that sense of yourself before you run to help in your community. Just as on a plane, a mother needs to put the oxygen mask on herself before her children, life teaches us that a moment to pause, breathe, find balance within us supports clearer focus and an ability to see what's needed in any given moment.
What can you do when you feel the panic starting to build inside? It's important to be with yourself and your nervous system to help keep yourself calmer during times of natural disaster, physical stress, emotional stress, or challenges with thinking about what will happen next. Right now we are in shock. Lives will never be the same again. Acceptance of the "new norm" will take time, support, healing, and lots of compassion.
So if you are affected by Sandy, or are going through another life changing event that has stopped you in your tracks, and find yourself out of sorts, here are some steps to ground you and negotiate a new normal.