For some, the personal recovery period following Hurricane Irma could pose prolonged stress lasting days... or even months after the storm's passing. 

The Florida Department of Health in Broward County is reminding people to be mindful, and to recognize that it is normal to feel anxious about their own and their family’s safety.  

"Sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event such as Hurricane Irma," DOH-Broward said in a news release Tuesday. "Everyone will have different needs and different ways of coping.  Stress can and will lead to serious illness."

DOH-Broward reminds you to keep these stress-related symptoms top of mind: 

  • Difficulty communicating thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased use of alcohol/drugs
  • Limited attention span
  • Poor work performance
  • Headaches/stomach problems
  • Tunnel vision/muffled hearing
  • Colds or flu-like symptoms
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Reluctance to leave home
  • Depression, sadness, mood swings and feelings of hopelessness
  • Crying easily
  • Abnormal glucose(sugar) levels
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Back, shoulder and neck pain
  • Loss of appetite or increased appetite

The following may help people deal with elevated stress levels during this time:

  • Realizing everyone deals with stress differently: do not compare or judge
  • Talk about it  
    • By talking with others about the event, you may realize they share the same feelings
  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Encourage children to share their feelings and concerns
    • Use artwork, such as drawings, to allow children to express themselves, if they cannot easily verbalize their fears
  • Take care of yourself: get rest and exercise, continue religious practices or spiritual activities
  • Eat well balanced meals
  • Establish or reestablish your regular routines as soon as you can
  • Take one thing at a time
  • If you can, help: 
    • Give blood 
    • Prepare meals for others
    • Make time for parents or disabled and elderly neighbor
  • Avoid drugs and excessive drinking
  • Ask for help: there are many resources available in our community

 In addition to the above, emergency response and volunteer workers should:

  • Rotate work assignments from high stress to lower stress functions
  • Drink plenty of water and eat regularly
  • Eat healthy snacks like fresh fruits and other energy foods
  • Take frequent breaks from the scene
  • Talk about your feelings to process what you have seen and done
  • Pair up with a responder so that you may monitor one another’s stress

If self-help strategies are not working, then you may want to seek professional assistance. For more information on DOH-Broward services, you can call (954) 467-4705 or visit their website

DOH-Broward works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.