Aug 29, 2023 - Health

5 coping tips for anniversaries of hurricanes and other traumatic events

Illustration of a calendar with a lit candle on one of the days.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Anniversaries of trauma-causing events, like catastrophic hurricanes, have a way of resurfacing difficult emotions and throwing us off kilter, according to NOLA Ready, the city's emergency preparedness team.

  • The phenomenon is called the "anniversary effect." It can make you feel restless, on edge and depressed. It can also cause trouble sleeping.

Driving the news: Aug. 29 is the anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Ida, both of which devastated southeast Louisiana. Many residents are still rebuilding.

What's next: Here are some coping tips from NOLA Ready on this difficult day.

  • Talk about it: Express your memories and feelings. You can do this by talking with a loved one, journaling, blogging or finding creative ways to express your inner experiences.
  • Cut down on media: News stories and social media will be flooded with stories and images revisiting the original event.
  • Commemorate: Some people find it helpful to remember the event with a ritual, ceremony or celebration of survival.
    • Over the weekend, there was a second-line to remember Katrina.
    • At 9:30am Tuesday, the 18th annual Hurricane Katrina memorial ceremony will be held at Shell Beach in St. Bernard with Sen. Bill Cassidy.
  • Prep and plan: Having a plan for you and your family can help reduce stress levels, advises the National Weather Service. Focus on preparing your emergency kit and creating a plan.
  • Seek professional help: You are not alone. Loss affects each of us differently. If you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, consider seeking a mental health care professional.
    • The Metropolitan Human Services District also has a crisis hotline: (504) 826-2675.

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