Bangkok’s floods have been devastating for businesses and residents alike. But, while the physical consequences of the rising flood waters in various parts of the city are easy to see, there may be other, less obvious, casualties of the crisis. It’s easy to put property protection at the top of our agenda during this time, but we mustn’t overlook the impact the floods may be having on our relationships.
Intense stress and anxiety during times like this can put a strain on family life and friendships; particularly with those you live with and those with whom you make big decisions.
During a large-scale crisis such as this, people can feel bombarded with information, dramatic TV images and things they hear from others. Soaking in so much bad news makes it hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel. The worst course of action is to panic and seek even more information. The result is confusion, stress and fear.
Conflict can occur when couples have access to different sources of information and advice. They filter it differently, and they end up with opposing ideas of what the best course of action should be.
We get stressed when there is a lot of information inundating us; we don’t know which is the most accurate source. For your own peace of mind, actively avoid information overload by setting limits on the number of news sources you follow. Media can exaggerate things and rumours spread easily during a crisis. By focusing on just one or two reliable sources, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what’s going on and will feel calmer. Synthesise all the information you’ve received before you start searching for more, or you’ll risk panicking yourself and your family. Instead, stay calm, work together, plan ahead, and trust and rely on one another.
Forward planning is essential to avoid inflaming family tensions. The floods are stressful enough without adding family conflict to the equation. For the sake of important relationships, decide in advance how you are going to deal with the continuing crisis. Sit down and discuss what the worst case scenario could be.
If you’re prepared for the worst, then anything else is easier to deal with, and any consequences of the flood can be dealt with according to the plan. It’s wise to make these plans in advance, because before a crisis, we talk based on principle, not emotion. During a crisis, emotion comes into play and tends to cloud common sense.
Most importantly, you must present a united front with those you live with. Believe in each other and make decisions together. There are bound to be times when you disagree about a particular decision or course of action. During these times, compromise is the key. If in doubt, take the less serious, more easily reversible action first. There’s no sense arguing over small precautions. If something is reversible and worthwhile, such as moving your possessions to higher groud, just do it. This advice isn’t only for handling floods; compromise makes for a happy partnership.
The best way to relieve stress during any crisis is to be as prepared and ready as possible beforehand. Decide what your goal is and keep it in mind. A realistic goal might be to get through the crisis safely.
Set the goal and talk through how you’re going to handle the crisis. If and when the crisis comes, you will be clear about how to deal with it. It helps to remember that everyone is working towards a similar goal. We are all on the same team.
Practically speaking, when it comes to the floods, there are simple steps you can take. For example, store your valuable possessions in one bag, in a safe, high place. Give photocopies of your passport to a person you trust.
Put your safety and your family’s safety first. If you’ve moved everything up to the second floor, there’s not much more you can really do to protect your home. You have to save yourself and your family first.
Finally, should the worst happen, don’t blame each other. Never tell people they were wrong. We have to solve this problem together. The same problem could happen again next year, so we should use the lessons from this year and make plans from our more informed perspective. With patience and planning, we will pass this crisis and we will all be stronger for it.
by Dr. Pansak Sugkraroek
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