Earthquakes: coping with anxiety

I've been thinking about the effect of the recent earthquakes on us here in Wellington and want to spare a thought for those in Kaikoura who have lost lives and property.

It's true that in many ways we are 'living on the edge'. We all know that everything about our life is impermanent and the only real constant is change. This is one of the elements we learn to live with as we become adults and move out of the security and innocence of childhood where if we have been fortunate enough to have kind attentive parents our anxieties have been soothed and comforted. We learn to live in our present lives by focusing on what does not appear to change and by creating as much stability and constancy as we can. We can become so embedded in this that we forget that this constancy can be upturned by life events and we can be very shocked when this happens.

Many people are understandably feeling stressed and anxious about aftershocks and the small but real threat of the big one. For people already struggling with anxiety this can add another layer of it. Particularly when this is being sensationalised in some quarters. Some people will be suffering from the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and the problems of sleep disruption and ongoing negative and catastrophic thoughts. Physical stress symptoms can ramp up.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness practices can help reduce the thoughts and symptoms. These are evidenced-based therapies for both anxiety and depression. 

If you are suffering from earthquake anxiety you might find it helpful to talk to someone. If you decide you don't need to see a counsellor there is a hotline you can ring; the 'All Right? Hotline' on 0800-777-846, specifically to talk about your earthquake fears.

Store your water, stock up some tins, make a plan with your family. Relax and breathe, knowing you've done all you can. Enjoy the good moments of your life in the present, right now.