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Hurricane Season and Existential Anxiety

Originally Published on 07/12/2021

Thomas Robertson, LCSW, CSAC

Originally Appeared in the North Shore News


You may have heard of seasonal affective disorder, a problem primarily experienced during the winter months. Are there mental health concerns that arise in other times of the year? The answer, of course is yes! In Hawai‘i we have “hurricane season” each year. Each time we enter hurricane season, I find myself in a struggle between wanting to be more prepared and just not wanting to be hassled with it. I feel anxious, wondering what I should do.


These types of thoughts are probably quite common for many of us this time of year and they can be a source of great anxiety. In fact, there is scientific research that suggests that just thinking about natural disasters and climate change can cause an increase in anxiety and other mental health symptoms.


This isn’t an article about hurricane preparedness, but rather I would like to share a few thoughts on the anxiety we feel when faced with those problems that may feel really big, like natural disasters, or problems that might feel “abstract.” These kinds of problems tap into a complex phenomenon that theorists call existential anxiety. Among other things, this kind of anxiety deals with thinking about things that threaten or impact our existence.


One solution is to live in the moment. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan for the future, merely that our general mindset should be mindful and present. Through mindful practices we can better confront existential anxiety. I encourage you to do a simple internet search on mindfulness. You will find an abundance of information and resources.


If you are experiencing this kind of anxiety or any other mental health symptoms that are impacting your wellbeing, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or engage in therapy with a professional.

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