Preparing your Shelter from the Storm

Preparing your Shelter from the Storm

There will always be storms, but it’s how prepared you are is more the question. Prepare a shelter from the storm for yourself and those to come. 


There’s a storm coming. I can smell it.

It’s a mental health storm, and it’s brewing to be a big one.

A storm I never thought possible is looming on the horizon.

It’s out of my control and I have to prepare.


High on the summit of Mount Triglav, Slovenia, is a storm shelter called Aljažev stolp (Aljaž Tower).

It’s not exactly beautiful or something to be admired for architectural wonder, but if you’re in a storm, it would be a welcome sight.

Not being very large, it can probably only take two to three climbers comfortably.

The tower was designed by Jakob Aljaž, a priest in the Upper Carniolan village of Dovje, who also had it erected.

In 1895, Jakob drew up with a chalk on the floor of his room in the Parish of Dovje plans for a cylindrical tower with a flag on its top.

In April that year, he purchased the summit of Triglav for the sum of one florin from the then Municipality of Dovje.

Having done so, he secured himself the right to erect a building on his own real property.

The tower was constructed from iron and zinc-coated sheet steel by Anton Belec from Šentvid near Ljubljana.

He and four workers brought the parts of the tower to the summit of Triglav and put the tower together in only five hours on 7 August 1895.

Its opening ceremony and blessing took place in a small circle on 22 August that year. Wikipedia

I like this story.

It’s the creating of a haven or a safe place for others to go when they are in a storm.

All the images I have seen of this structure show the shelter when the weather is fine, sunny, and safe.

But, as we know, life is full of storms and wild weather. Some times those storms seem to linger longer than we would like, and yes, we need storm shelters to hide in and stay safe.

Jakob Aljaž had the foresight to think ahead and to plan for the welfare of others.

Four qualities of good Mental Health Storm Shelters

Do you have a storm shelter for your own mental wellbeing?

We build them ahead of time from resources we have gathered over time and we know that have stood the test of time.

  1. Built ahead of time
    Often we have a naïve simplicity about life that we will never face crisis. But given a bit of time, you soon realise that storms of stress can come seemingly out of nowhere.
    So build ahead of time.
  2. Building materials gathered over time
    We collect materials. It might be little things we have learned from other crisis. We don’t collect the flimsy and weak. Instead, we gather the strong and reliable.
  3. Building materials that have stood the test of time.
    These items that you collect have been known for a very long time to stand up to any sort of storm.
  4. It’s maintained and upgraded.
    Over time and through many storms, perhaps the storm shelter needs repair work done. Perhaps some upgrading.

My Storm Shelter

To help you build your own, I would like to share with you my shelter.

It’s not some iron and zinc-coated steel tube in my backyard.

My storm shelter is more a set of habits and relationships that I can run into when the going gets tough. Many of these building materials I have learned to surround my life with every day.

  • Rituals
    It’s those patterns in your life that can be thrown out in a crisis. For me, it’s listening to the Bible every day. It’s journalling out my thought life. Prayer is even more important. Meditating on favourite verses.
  • Relationships
    Those key relationships I have around me. Like the fibres of a bird’s nest, I make sure these relationships keep close to me. They know I’m going through a storm and will keep even closer.
  • Canned responses.
    A canned response is a brief sentence that you have memorised for just that time when you need to speak it. You may even have it written for that moment the storm hits.
    My favourite response to storm bullies is to remember J.A.D.E. – No Justifying, No Arguing, No Defending, and No Explaining.
  • Self-care permission slips
    Just because you’re in a storm it doesn’t mean you have to give up on self-care and pampering. Have a sleep in, go for a walk, enjoy time with others. Read more here
  • Thinking Compass
    A thinking compass is invaluable when you’re in a storm. Your brain may want to scream and panic, but having a compass in hand will bring your brain back to focus and being steady. Learn more about the Thinking compass here.

Please don’t be the victim and moan that you don’t have any of the above.

Don’t me a P.L.O.M (Poor Little Old Me). 

Do something about it. Take action.

Mental Health storms don’t care if you’re ready or not. You are the one responsible for your life.

Build it well and make it robust.

Quotes to consider

Questions to answer

  1. What would you build your storm shelter with?
  2. Who would you take into your storm shelter with you?
  3. What storms have you faced and what have you learned from them?

Formation exercise

  • Imagine yourself as a climber and you notice the weather is changing and a storm is rolling in. You see in the distance the storm shelter of the Aljažev stolp. What emotions

Further Reading

I Need a Safe Place

What’s in Your Emergency Mental Health Grab Bag

The Healing Nest of Kindness and Compassion

8 Steps To Discovering Wellness Through Knowing Your Early Warning Signs

Crowd in Mojstrana admires arrival of Aljaž Tower by helicopter

Barry Pearman

Image Wikipedia commons


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