June is the official start of the hurricane season. The negative impact of hurricanes can be made less severe with proper planning, early preparation and the right frame of mind.

As you prepare for the hurricane season, keep the following in mind: all the planning and preparation in the world will yield little if the will or determination to ensure their success or effectiveness is compromised by overwhelming fear and anxiety. Mental readiness should be an import part of hurricane preparation.

During a hurricane, you will experience some degree of anxiety and stress. Once the necessary preparations have been made in advance of the approaching hurricane anxiety and stress levels will normally lessen. What follows are a number of tips and techniques that will help to make hurricane stress more manageable.

Centering

Sitting comfortably in a chair, ensure that the spine (back) is kept straight and your feet are a shoulder width apart and resting comfortably on the floor. Rest the palms of your hands on your thighs and ensure that your head is held erect. Close your eyes and breathe slowly, deeply and rhythmically. Next, focus on your breath. As you inhale, see the air — in your mind’s eye — as it enters the nostrils and travels downward as if to the pit of your stomach. Hold the breath for several seconds then slowly exhale. As you hold your breath and as you exhale, remember to follow it with your mind’s eye. Continue this deep breathing and “mental focusing” for about 5 or 10 minutes. As you perform the exercise and your mind becomes more and more focused on the breath, you will become less aware of yourself and your external environment. Soon you will experience a sensation of being free and relaxed. Do the exercise several times each day and especially during periods of great stress.

The Sponge

Performing the sponge is quite simple. First, lie on your back with your arms resting along the sides of your body. The palms of your hands should be facing up and your feet positioned a shoulder width apart. Next, close your eyes and relax the whole body as you breathe deeply, slowly and rhythmically. Visualize (see in your “mind’s eye”) yourself floating in midair. As you inhale, see the surrounding air rushing in through your entire body. Exhale and see it leave. Like a sponge, you absorb the air when you inhale and squeeze it out as you exhale. Continue the breathing and visualization for up to five minutes, longer if you so desire.

When performing the above exercises, it’s important to consider the following:

• During a hurricane stay as far away as you can from windows and doors. If possible, the exercises should be done in a bathroom or other designated “safe room.”

• Strive to be as relaxed as you possibly can.

• As you endure the sounds of the wind and rain of the hurricane, your mind will occasionally wonder and you may lose your concentration. Do not struggle to regain your focus. Simply acknowledge your temporary loss in concentration and return to the exercise.

Additional tips

• While preparing for and during a hurricane, it is important that you get as much rest and sleep as possible. This might be difficult to accomplish, but you need to be well rested if you are to deal effectively with hurricane stress.

• Pay particular attention to the food items you choose during a hurricane. If at all possible, ensure a balanced diet. Avoid, or use in moderation, stress-inducing foods such as those high in sugar, salt and fats. In addition, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, white flour products and tobacco items should be avoided or used in moderation.

• Exercise as often as you can. This will condition your body to deal with varying degrees of stress.

• Listen to your favorite music.

• Develop a positive outlook on life and strive to maintain confidence.

For all your fitness needs, visit the Fitness Center at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County, 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte, or call 941-625-4175, Ext. 263.

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