HONOLULU (KHON2) — Professionals said that feeling extreme anxiety during these trying times for Maui is natural, even for those who are not on the Valley Isle.
Psychologists told KHON2 that there are ways to deal with those emotions.
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The smoke over Lahaina has cleared, but a haze of grief is still thick over all of Hawaii. Psychologists said constant exposure to stories from Maui can have detrimental effects on mental health, especially on children.
“And I do think this is a good time to have conversations with, you know, your children or with others and say and talk to them at their level. ‘How do you feel about what’s going on over there?’ And let them express because if they don’t have a moment to express, ‘I feel helpless or I feel afraid, what if it happened to us?’ And they’re toying around in their mind what that would look like,” said crisis therapist Dr. Danielle Rae Daniel.
Dr. Daniel said setting a timer on your phone will help limit exposure and the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Had tips for bringing yourself back to the present moment.
“One of them is just a simple flower breath. So you just pretend that you’re holding a flower in front of you. Take a deep breath, smell the flower, and then blow out the candle. That’s it. Really, really easy. Really simple. We always have our breath no matter what,” said NAMI Hawaii program director Anisa Wiseman.
It is okay for those who are doing the consoling to empathize, but do not offer clichés.
“Please don’t say, ‘People are in a better place,’ or, ‘They’re with the angels,’ or you know, ‘What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,'” licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Alicia Cockrum said. “Try to fight it and in place say, ‘I’m here. I’m here. I’ll sit with you.'”
It is going to be a long road to recovery for Lahaina and there are things everyone can do to give themselves a sense of purpose.
“Just take care of yourself as much as you can right now, so when it’s your time to help, you can,” Wiseman said.
“Help a neighbor out. Take somebody’s trashcan to the curb, you know, continue that love and spirit of community that we’re seeing in Lahaina and honor that through our own acts of kindness,” Dr. Cockburn said. “The process of grieving is learning to live, to walk in this world without them.”
NAMI Hawaii hosts virtual Maui Strong Support groups every Saturday at 10 a.m. — email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
NAMI Hawaii also plans to hold in-person support groups in partnership with Mental Health America Hawaii on Tuesday, Aug. 22 and Tuesday, Aug. 29 at the J. Walter Cameron Center in Wailuku.