The most common natural disasters in the U.S. are Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Floods, Wildfires, and Earthquakes.
But there are other types of disasters too! Personal ones.
Personal disasters are, in order of stress impact, – the death of a spouse, partner, child, sibling, parent, or best friend; divorce; a deadly or life-changing disease or injury; loss of a job; assault or abuse inflicted by others; addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling).
Have you experienced any of these natural or personal disasters? And if yes, what is the biggest disaster you have survived?
How has it changed you?
In my life I’ve survived a flood, a category 5 hurricane, two divorces, the deaths of my parents, grandparents, two siblings, and my life-long best friend. One of my divorces was not only emotionally stressful, it was financially devastating and forced me into bankruptcy.
I think about survival in October because it was three years ago on October 10, 2018 when my husband and I rode out the category 5 Hurricane Michael at our home on Florida’s northern gulf coast.
When the storm was over our cars were destroyed and we had no way to get anywhere. We had no power for 9 days; no running water for even longer. The destruction was heart-breaking and the cleanup ahead of us was massive, and made even more so by the no water/no power situation. It took until February of 2020 – a year and four months – to get all the hurricane repairs done. On top of that, in January of 2020 my father died. And then in March 2020 Covid hit!
So, it’s been a really challenging past 3 years dealing with one disaster after another! Those years have put my naturally optimistic, Polyanna attitudes to the test! But I like to think I always look for the rainbow after these life-changing storms.
They’ve changed me, by strengthening my appreciation of what is truly important in life. This is stuff we already know, but often forget to keep in perspective. Stuff such as . . .
Family First! Being there for family and spending time together enrich your life. And yes, pets are definitely family too! Put petty differences aside and love your family as they are.
Sadly, more than 75 million people in America have an estranged relationship with someone in their immediate family. Personal slights, disagreements, perceived insults, greed, jealousy, anger, and intolerance create wounds that never heal and cause people to stop having anything to do with each other. To me that is the ultimate sadness and disaster… missed opportunities to share life with those who should be closest to you.
Make Time for Friends. Social time spent with friends is the ultimate mental health cure. People need people in their lives beyond family. The shared experiences with friends are priceless. They enrich every aspect of who we are. Keeping in touch with friends is even more important during Covid when face-to-face socializing can be risky. I’m so grateful for all my friends!
Keep Your Insurance Up to Date! You never know when disaster might strike. While insurance won’t make it right, it helps alleviate some of the pain. Not having it can lead to even greater personal disasters. Life insurance, health, auto, homeowner, renters, and flood insurance can seem like unnecessary expenses at times, but when disaster strikes you’ll be glad you have them.
Most “Things” are not Precious. Disasters make it really clear what we value and what we don’t really need. If I lost all my jewelry tomorrow it wouldn’t change my life. If I lost all my photo albums, that go back to my childhood, I would be devastated. Most of what we have is replaceable; but disasters have shown me what is irreplaceable.
Have Purpose in Your Life. When life is good, use your time and money to do things that make a difference for those less fortunate than you. Help people in your community who are struggling. Volunteer, support a cause, and focus on making your world a better place.
Stay Physically Healthy so you can enjoy life! Being in good health affects every aspect of your life. Did you know that 45% of Americans have a chronic illness? More than a third of adults have five ailments! 70% of adults are overweight; 42% are obese according to government health statistics.
We all know to get regular exercise, eat healthy, and keep our weight and BMI in a healthy zone. But obviously we don’t do it. And we pass on our bad habits to our kids. They are now measuring obesity in children! It’s alarming to know that in the U.S. 13.4% of 2-5 year olds, 20.3% of 6-11 year olds, and 21.2% of 12-18 year olds are overweight or obese. It’s no wonder American TV is full of commercials for drugs and weight loss plans.
Studies by the American Psychological Association show the ability to deal with disasters is at its lowest when we are in our 20s and 30s. Even worse, the Covid pandemic has caused unprecedented levels of stress, depression and inability to deal with disasters starting as young as age 13.
We can bounce back from the disasters in our lives and hopefully be changed for the better. They bring us opportunities to be stronger, happier, and wiser people if we let them. Embrace those opportunities and you’ll find the rainbows after your storms.
I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.John D. Rockefeller