Dear Dish-It: Scared and Paranoid

Dear Dish-it,

I live in Japan, where the huge earthquake hit about three or four weeks ago, and I'm getting totally scared. The aftershocks and the nuclear situation is really getting scary. Every time I hear the earthquake warning, I jump right out of my skin and start sprinting off outside. How do I overcome my fear?


Dear WorriedAsUsual19,

I’m sorry to hear about your fear, but I’m really happy that you’re OK! Being scared after a major disaster like the earthquake and tsunami that recently occurred in Japan is totally normal…and there are some things you can do to help overcome your worries.

Talk A Lot

The first thing you can do to make yourself feel better is talk to someone about it! Tell your mom, dad or another adult that you trust what your concerns are and why. If your friends feel the same way as you do, talking to them can help as well – just try not to get each other all worked up over nothing. Talking about your feelings with others can be a great way to take the load of your chest and come up with other ways to cope.

Reassure Yourself

Talking to yourself can help, too. I don’t mean you should walk around muttering under your breath (!); maybe before you go to sleep every night or when you wake up in the morning you can say to yourself, “I’m safe, everything is OK,” a few times. It’s amazing how much you can calm yourself down!

Get the Facts

Sometimes all the news reports about a disaster can make it seem like things are worse than they really are. That’s why it’s important to filter the info you hear to make sure you know the facts of the situation.Whenever you hear something that scares, worries or confuses you on the news or read it in the paper, make sure to ask an adult like your teacher what’s true and what’s not. Also, while it is very important to stay aware of what’s happening around you, I also recommend taking some time off from reading/watching those bad news reports every day (or, take some “time on” to look for good news stories that can make you feel better and more hopeful). Once you’ve got the facts, there’s no need to keep listening or watching – it may only make you feel more worried, needlessly.

Be Ready

Another way to “get the facts” is to read up on earthquakes and tsunamis – the more you know about how these natural events work, the better you might feel about them. Also, learning what to do in case of another earthquake or tsunami can reassure you that you’ll be able to stay safe and protected no matter what may happen in the future. Finally, putting together an earthquake emergency kit and making a safety plan with your family to keep in your home can also provide some extra reassurance in case another tremor happens in the future.

Feel Grateful

Can anything good come out of a natural disaster? Yes – people who live through these events, like you, eventually feel a sense of gratitude for surviving. They often understand better than most of us that life is precious and that we should enjoy every moment of it the best we can! It make take some time for you to feel this way, but in the meantime, try looking on the bright side – you made it through this, and you still have the opportunity to live a wonderful, happy life!

Go On

When bad things happen, it can be easy to dwell on them. However, living a life full of fear and worry about what COULD happen instead of focusing on the good things that ARE happening is not the best idea. I understand that you are feeling shaken up about this, but at some point you need to tell yourself that it’s over and it’s time to move on…you don’t want to live in fear anymore, do you? Don’t let this take over your life when you have so much to live for and be grateful for!

Get Close

Something else that could help is reminding the people around you how much you love and care for them – and reminding yourself of that, too! Write you mom a note, give your dad a hug, tell your friends how much they mean to you – recognizing the good things in life is an important part of the healing process.

Pitch In

If there are any clubs or groups in your area that are pitching in to help out with relief after the earthquake/tsunami, why not see if you can join in their efforts and help out? Doing something positive to give back to your community could really go a long way in making you feel better – you’ll feel like you’re doing something to help the country of Japan – and yourself – move on and rebuild!

HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think WorriedAsUsual19 should do? Do you have some good advice? Leave your comment below!

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