Santa Barbara County residents may be feeling a range of emotions surrounding the current heavy rain. Several community members experienced flooding of their business or homes in the January storm and the scars of the 1/9 debris flow remain with all.
The National Institute for Health (NIH) states that flooding is now the most frequent type of disaster, but just like other types of disasters, the impact on people’s mental health can be extensive.
Also, the damage caused by flooding requiring a lengthy recovery period afterward increases the risks of secondary stressors created by the worry about recurrence with additional storms.
There is no right or wrong way to feel, according to the county Department of Behavioral Wellness, however, it is important to find healthy coping strategies including self-care and knowing your supports.
Common reactions may include stress, sleep problems, panic attacks, nightmares, anger, mood swings and increased use of alcohol and/or drugs, the Behavioral Wellness Department states.
Following are some suggested coping strategies to take care of yourself and your loved ones:
• Be mindful of media intake. Find a few reliable sources for news updates and be intentional about checking a few times throughout the day.
• Get enough sleep. Many have trouble sleeping during or after a high stress event. If you have trouble sleeping, only go to bed when you are ready to sleep, avoid using cell phones or laptops in bed, and avoid caffeine or alcohol at least one hour before going to bed. If you wake and are unable to sleep, try journaling.
• Take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, eat healthy meals and schedule time in your day to reflect, take a five-minute mindfulness break. Santa Barbara County residents can sign up free for the Headspace app here.
• Keep routines. From meals to activities as simple as taking a break to stand and walk around the house or building, stretching or deep breathing.
• Move your body. Exercise. Stretch. Move.
• Stay connected with others.
• Get extra support if needed.
The Community Wellness Team (CWT) can be reached by calling 805-364-2750. For more, visit the CWT website.
Learn more about Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness at http://countyofsb.org/behavioral-wellness.
For assistance with accessing Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness services, call the 24/7 toll free Crisis Response and Services Access Line, 888-868-1649.