IOWA DERECHO 2020

It's OK to feel not OK right now

A trail of flattened soybeans shows the path of a flattened silo during the storm as it hit a farm near Norway, Iowa on
A trail of flattened soybeans shows the path of a flattened silo during the storm as it hit a farm near Norway, Iowa on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. Cleanup continues around the area following the Aug. 10 derecho, which left hundreds of thousands of Iowans without power and displaced many whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the heavy winds. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

While the level of impact from the derecho varies from person to person, as a community, we are all hurting. The mental and physical trauma of this storm seems to be magnified, as we are still in the midst of a pandemic.

How are you doing?

How are you really doing?

If you haven’t yet, please consider slowing down, taking a couple deep breaths and evaluate how you are feeling.

Here’s what experts want you to know: it’s OK for you to not feel OK right now. While I believe in the power of positivity, it’s important to mention “toxic positivity.”

Anything — even positivity — done in excess has the potential to cause more harm than good. Psychological studies say that hiding or denying feelings leads to more stress on the body.

Being in the middle of a pandemic and surviving a derecho that rocked our city, it’s OK to feel upset, concerned, worried, scared, out-of-balance, mad or even really sad. It’s OK to have all these feelings. It’s healthy and will foster healing to name your emotions. Call your emotions what they are: Name them to tame them.

You are allowed to feel all these things, and guess what? You also are allowed to feel grateful, loved, happy, relieved and hopeful at the same time. It doesn’t have to be, “I lost my roof, but I know other people have it so much worse, so I’m not going to complain! I’m fine.” You can make space for both emotions: “My house is damaged, and I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse.”

“I am feeling so sad for my community, and I am so happy more lives were not lost.”

“This storm has been extremely hard on my pocketbook, and I am feeling really loved with all the volunteers helping me.”

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Try not to judge your feelings as good or bad. “It’s important for people to normalize and label their experiences while removing any expectations and goals that they should feel better than they do,” says Natalie Dattilo, a clinical health psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Recognize that how you feel is valid, no matter what.”

Being a positive person myself, I often default to looking for silver linings, the lesson that can be learned, or believing I shouldn’t be feeling a certain way because I have it better than so many others. But allowing myself to feel all my feelings without judgment has allowed me to be more real with myself and has helped me move through uncomfortable emotions easier.

Do you have feelings that you are suppressing or not allowing yourself to feel? Remember, for your own health and well-being, it’s important to give yourself permission to feel all your emotions without judgment.

Kylie Alger is a certified wellness coach and co-owner of the Well-Woman: Body, Mind & Spirit. Comments: kylie@thewellwoman.org

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