A business friend of mine hates sudden loud noises, like fireworks or a sharp crack of thunder.
Good thing she doesn’t live in Alberta this summer. We have had a lot of thunderstorms.
The anxiety or fear produced by thunderstorms, astraphobia, can be severe. If it is debilitating, then professional help may be warranted.
If it isn’t debilitating or professional help isn’t around the corner, there are lots of things that can be done.
Energy and persistence conquer all things.
Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going.
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.
1. Understand the storm.
Learn more about storms. Fear may turn into curiousity.
Is your child:
Science-minded: Research what makes a thunderstorm.
An action movie buff: Watch some storm-chaser video clips.
Artistic: Look at the beauty of a storm (amazing photos online).
2. Discuss storm safety.
Come up with a plan what to do if outside during a storm, in a car, in a building. Practice and praise. Ask, “What would you do if . . . “ and praise the answer, fine-tuning it if needed.
3. Ask what is happening to them when a storm approaches. Depending on their answer, solutions might become obvious. What are they telling themselves? Is their self-talk making it worse? Perhaps, they are physically sensitive, in the same way some animals can tell if a storm is approaching. One theory is that animals (and perhaps some people) are more sensitive to the electromagnetic radiation caused by lightning strikes. Maybe that's where the aluminum foil idea came from (heavy duty aluminum foil was suggested to help dogs that are agitated during an electrical storm).
4. Create a fun ‘storm routine’. If your child is afraid of the power going off and it being dark, be prepared with flashlights (preferred) or candles and have board games and snacks at the ready, just in case. A power outage due to a storm might become a desirable!
5. Discuss the fear. Fear thrives in secrecy. Talking about a fear doesn’t always make it go away but it can reduce the intensity.
6. Distract during the storm. If a storm comes and you are not prepared or not at home – compete with the storm. Sing songs. Ask mind teasers. Share warm and funny stories, especially about anxious person.
7. Reduce external stimulation. Use earplugs. Put on headphones with soothing music. Block out light, if reducing visual stimulation reduces anxiety in general.
8. Increase sensory input. Whether it is a purchased item, like a pressure vest (or for a dog, a thundershirt) or a DIY solution like putting on an extra-tight t-shirt, the pressure can calm the system.* Chew on several pieces of gum. Give each other bear hugs. (*see below for time-sensitive info)
9. Try natural remedies like calming lavender and Bach flower extracts (as in Rescue Remedy)
10. Combine several of the above. Create a storm fort under blankets. The fort becomes a safe, fun place to be. The darkness reduces sensory input. Auditory input might be reduced. The weight of the blankets on the head provides pressure. Reading out loud by flashlight is a great distraction. And it provides a special event that only occurs during storms.
*Our new pressure vests have arrived and with them, the forewarned price increase. The price change was to go up August 1 but a few people have mentioned they missed it since the deadline was during a long weekend. The old prices will be up until midnight tonight. Order now if a pressure vest would make your life easier.
P.S. As is becoming common practice in Take AIM, please contact me for the articles used to create this newsletter. Surprisingly, I found more tips and hints listed on sites dedicated to animals.
I don't remember ever being afraid of storms. How about you? If you were, were you able to get over that fear? If so, how did you do it?