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For those with storm anxiety, Oklahoma's severe weather season can be a stressful time

Severe Storms
Raychel Sanner
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Spring in Oklahoma means severe weather season is upon us. It’s normal to have some worry when severe weather approaches, but for some with storm anxiety this time of the year can oftentimes be debilitating.

Dr. Britta Ostermeyer, Chief of Psychiatry at OU Health, says storm anxiety is more common than you might think. According to a 2014 Ball State University study, about 85% people surveyed admitted at least some increased anxiety around severe weather. However, when anxiety gets so high it can impact one’s daily routine, eating, work and sleep.

Perhaps the best way to deal with weather-related anxiety is to prepare for it and have a safety plan in place.

"Unfortunately, storms will come. We need to focus on what we can control, and what we can control is to be prepared," said Dr. Ostermeyer.

That includes knowing where your safe spot is, getting emergency supplies such as a first aid kit and flashlights, and having multiple ways to receive a weather warning.

Ostermeyer recommends those experiencing anxiety to take time to relax, meditate and identify what makes them anxious about storms.

"For a lot of people it is the thunder itself. But, is it the noise of the thunder, or is it the lightning?"

She says finding ways to attenuate the fright associated with thunderstorms will allow the mind to think clearly and respond better to emergencies to ensure safety.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Norman have compiled a list of tips to help deal with storm anxiety. The weather service recommends learning about storms, having a safety plan and learning the local geography - nearby cities and towns, counties, interstates and highways - to make it easier to track the storms as they move through the area.

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