Lessons learned during 2007 ice storm can help deal with stress of sheltering in place

  • Published: Sunday, March 29, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- If experience is a great teacher, then the 2007 ice storm that hit southwest Missouri taught us some valuable lessons. The storm left many families stranded indoors for a week or more without electricity and other modern conveniences.

“I learned a few things from our isolation during the 2007 ice storm,” said David Burton, county engagement specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “During the ice storm, I had a hard time seeing anything good coming out of it. I had trouble seeing past the next day for a while.”

The stress of the ice storm caused people not to sleep well, become angry, and feel both isolated and lonely. This caused families to discover things they could do to help reduce their stress. “But as I learned, humans enjoy change that we control and resist change that we do not control. Any loss or uncertainty creates stress in our lives," said Burton.

Some lessons learned then can be applied to the current COVID19 social distancing and shelter-in-place policies.

First, focus on what is important to your family. “All of this togetherness is a good time to reconnect. For us that met board games every night and reading books out loud by candlelight. Those are still special memories for our children,” said Burton.

Second, keep a sense of humor. It is possible to find something funny amid the challenges. “For over a week, I slept under three blankets with a stocking cap on and gloves. That story gets retold over and over by my kids now,” said Burton.

Third, invest in your health. “Establish a daily routine, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and find a way to exercise. That may just mean walking around your house or up and down your stairs like it did for me in 2007, but it could also mean walks outdoors,” said Burton

Fourth, focus on the good to develop a positive attitude. “There is always hope. If there is something you are viewing or consuming a lot of that creates drama or anxiety in your life, this is a great time to reduce it,” said Burton. 

Fifth, being at home may be the perfect time to invest in yourself with education. Specialists with MU Extension office are offering several online classes. Right now, it is possible to take our food preservation online and to learn to deal with stress in our “Taking Care of You” class.

Burton is helping teach a class on the “21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” starting April 6.  This free online class has 21 sessions of 30 minutes and is a chance to learn more about yourself and the qualities needed to be an effective leader.

More information on dealing with stress or CoVid19 can be found online along with registration pages for all of these classes at http://extension.missouri.edu.
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Writer: David Burton

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