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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

Dealing with Wildfire

If you are in the Bay Area right now, you know about the terribly smoky conditions. It's almost impossible to go anywhere without the noxious smell of smoke.

Many people are wearing masks of varying colors and types. Some people are digging out of their drawers the masks they bought for last year's series of wildfires. Understandably, a lot of us are stressed and worried. There is the question in most people's mind: how long will this last?

You may be wondering about how to cope with this difficult situation that we are all in. I am going to list some things that may help:

1. If you find yourself anxious, remember that this situation is temporary. There will be an end in sight, hopefully soon.

2. Know that you are not alone. We are all in this together.

3. Don't feel bad if you are scared or upset. Everyone handles crises differently. For some people, they would rather deal with this stoically; they may want to go about their business as though the air wasn't infused with smoke. And that is okay. But if you find yourself upset, easily tearful, and anxious, know that this is normal too. Don't let anyone talk you out of your feelings.

4. Take care of yourself physically, as well as emotionally. Perhaps that is walking around a large, air conditioned store, which may not have as much of a smoke odor. If getting a massage may help, try this. Or maybe you'd rather just stay home and relax. See what works for you.

5. The challenging experiences of life -- for instance, illness, fires, or the loss of a loved one -- are opportunities to check in with ourselves. Are we living our lives in a way that we should be?

Ask yourself if there is something that you have been putting off doing that may be helpful and healthy. Perhaps you've been avoiding going to the doctor or dentist. Maybe you really need a vacation, but have been procrastinating on that too.

Perhaps your life needs more of a sense of purpose or meaning, for instance, volunteer work. Maybe you need to reach out to people more; think of someone you've been out of touch with and give him or her a call or a text. Or maybe it's time to take that art class that you've been thinking about for a while.

I'm not saying that a destructive wildfire is a good thing. But it can be a time to take stock in our lives. See what is working out -- and what is not. And once this crisis blows over (literally), we can make some important moves towards a healthier, and more meaningful, life.

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