We will never forget October 10, 2018, and the days that followed. We experienced hardships that we have never known before, but also loving responses from families, friends and strangers. Now, it is a year later and we are starting to see the results of the community’s efforts to rebuild and move on. We have all celebrated successes, and yet many of us may still feel angry, sad, frustrated, or other difficult emotions. This is to be expected and is very normal. Yet, there are things we can do so our days are not dominated by these emotions.

Although we work hard to advocate for ourselves to get jobs completed, we can’t control how soon the contractor can start on our house, or whether there is an insurance check in the mail box. However, we can learn to better manage our emotions to bring joy back into our lives.

Life Management Center’s Project H.O.P.E. teams provide many services for survivors of Hurricane Michael. One thing they do is teach simple coping skills that allow individuals to take a break from the continual stress. Some of the basic techniques taught by Project H.O.P.E. are: deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, simple meditation or prayer, or reaching out to a friend to connect and talk. Taking a few minutes to break the stress pattern can reset your body’s response to stress.

Project H.O.P.E. team members provide free, confidential services anywhere, including homes, businesses, schools, colleges, houses of worship, and community centers. If you have been affected by Hurricane Michael, the team can help you with individual support, information and educational support, community support group development, community networking support, assessment of needs, and even referrals to other local resources. And, if needed, a team member can come to you to provide services.

As we move into the year after, we can see the sunset over the bay and feel the love of our town and neighbors. Things most likely will not ever be quite the same but they will be beautiful and loving.

To learn more about, or receive services from, Life Management Center’s Project H.O.P.E. team, call 522-4485, ext. 1840. The Citizens of Gulf County Recovery Team is also available to provide assistance. To reach the Recovery Team, call 270-9811 or visit www.recovergulf.org.

If you have a mental health emergency, contact Life Management Center at 522-4485 and select option 5 to reach their 24-hour emergency services.