How to Manage Emotions In a Disaster

how to manage emotions

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, it is important to consider how to manage emotions using  emotional intelligence as a response to natural disasters. When the worst case scenario strikes, emotions rise, and oftentimes those affected find themselves overcome with new emotions that they have no experience navigating.

Ways to manage emotions utilizing emotional intelligence

In the coming days and weeks, as we hear stories of those in Florida and humanitarian efforts begin to restore the area, we turn to emotional intelligence tips for self awareness, self management, resilience and empathy. Here are a few ways to manage emotions utilizing emotional intelligence skills in a time of crisis:

Self Awareness

  1. Self Awareness is crucial during a time of disaster, and you need to check in on yourself and take inventory of your emotions. Emotions can quickly get the best of you in stressful situations, and so it is important to understand how they work. Researcher Dr. Paul Ekman explains, “Moods can last for hours while emotions last anywhere from seconds to minutes, at most.” Emotions are momentary, a quick impulse to act. Anxiety, fear, guilt… The emotions can be endless. By checking in on your own emotions and actively considering how you are feeling allows for better decision making and communication. “Fight or flight” is a common mindset during high stress situations — by utilizing your self awareness you will be able to take a step back and assess your situation before your emotions take over.

    Self Management

  2. Self Management in Good Times and in Bad. We can all get better at managing the anxiety we inevitably feel when facing difficult and uncertain situations. An important step of self management during difficult times is to acknowledge and understand your uncertainty. The outcome of your future has not been decided and there are several mental shifts you can make to help navigate a difficult situation out of your control.

    Tips on how to manage emotions

  3. Here are some tips on how to manage emotions during good and bad times:
    • Expect and prepare for change. Knowing where emergency supplies are in your home or workplace, having a selected family member to use as a point of contact, or creating a plan for emergency situations are all great examples of using knowledge and preparedness to your advantage.
    • Know your role. Keeping yourself and others safe is always top of mind, but it pays to know what role you are going to take. Consider a muster drill on a boat. Each crew member has a station to tend to, a group of people to look after, and the tools they need to do so. Whether in your home, your town, or your organization, having a dedicated role in an emergency situation is crucial to a positive outcome.
    • Focus on the positives, not on your limitations. While it is clear that we have limited ability to stop negative events from occurring, we are always free to choose our response. Create a list of changes and jot down all the ways in which you can take action and respond to each change. You’ll surprise yourself with how much control you wield over seemingly uncontrollable circumstances.
    • Rewrite your script. Over time, we all develop mental scripts that run through our heads and influence how we feel about our circumstances and what we do in response to them. Take a step back and look at the emotions you experience during times of change. Next, rewrite that script in a way that would help you respond most effectively to change. What was it you believed about your circumstances that prevented you from responding more effectively?


  4. Resilience. Humans are resilient beings, and yet most of us don’t have to use resiliency on a daily basis. So, when the worst does strike, it often takes time to develop the emotional intelligence skills needed to be resilient. Accepting adversity is difficult, but often shines the light on other facets of our lives. Communities become stronger, aligned, and families bond over a shared experience. With resiliency we learn to put ideas into action. Communities facing hardship often put into place new best practices or come up with mitigation strategies, bettering themselves for the future. What would help you best be resilient during a difficult time? A support network, a shift in mindset, or jumping into action? Read The Power of Resilience  for strategies that have been put to use in real life situations.


  5. Use Empathy. Emotional intelligence skills can help us show empathy to the people around us on both our good and our bad days. Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions and your skill to use this awareness to manage yourself and your relationship with others. To be emotionally intelligent, you essentially are trying to be aware and then say, or do, something constructive based on that awareness. Empathy behaves very similarly in that it requires both seeing and doing. In high stress situations, such as the aftermath of a hurricane, we can use our social awareness skills to spot when to be empathetic and when to give empathy to someone in need. For more tips on empathy, view the webinar recording of, “Emotional Intelligence & Empathy: EQ Strategies to Help You Support & Connect With Others” hosted by TalentSmartEQ cofounder, author and emotional intelligence expert, Dr. Jean Greaves.

Did you learn how to manage emotions in a more skillful way? How are you taking an emotionally intelligent role in response to Hurricane Ian? Consider today how you can make an impact on those who are struggling.

Share this post