First responders have one of the most stressful, high pressure careers in the world. They have to be quick thinking and focused. There are a lot of people relying on you and essentially everyone’s lives are in your hands. While the job can be rewarding, such as saving a life and meeting all kinds of people, it also comes with some trials and tribulations, causing stress mentally and physically on the first responders. Often times they are witnessing circumstances that may leave a lasting impact on their lives such as natural disasters, people dying, and working excessive hours causing a separation from their families.
First responders may take time to recover from experiencing or they may have to cope with the pain for the rest of their lives. It’s important for first responders of all kinds to implement self care into their daily routines. If first responders aren’t informed on how to properly take care of their bodies and minds/deal with trauma, it can lead to depression, PTSD, and many other mental health issues. Preventing stress as much as possible will ensure more positivity and better work performance in a first responder’s life. Being involved in such an intense, strenuous job can definitely take a toll on your mental health and impact your overall mood and personality. It’s essential that first responders prioritize their mental health.
5 Health Tips For First Responders
1. Orchestrate Times to Communicate With Family Beforehand
Before starting the job, brainstorm ways to keep in contact with the people who are important to you. This is mainly if you will be traveling or working long hours. However, don’t put pressure on yourself to keep in touch with people. The right people should understand and be patient. If you feel tired and need to rest; always put your mental and physical health first.
2. Be Prepared Before Starting the Day
Don’t go in blind; research and learn more about your role and the tasks at hand. You will feel more confident and capable going into your first day. Familiarize yourself with various coping mechanisms that will help balance out the work days and nights as much as possible. These coping mechanisms include tricks on how to cope on the job as well as what to do outside of work or during your free time. While on the job, utilize any breathing techniques you may have learned. These practices will help you to calm down.
Don’t work beyond twelve hours; overworking yourself often has repercussions. Lack of sleep will cause exhaustion and that is risky when it’s about life or death and you must be alert and energized. Do not be ashamed to take breaks when needed and consistently remind yourself that your needs are not less than those you are helping; you are human too. Additionally, remember that it’s okay to have boundaries; you do not have to say yes to everything. Be vigilant of your limits and express them to your supervisor.
Outside of work, maintain a healthy diet, exercise and sleep schedule. Avoid consumption of alcohol or caffeine. Lastly, get your feelings out somehow, whether that be by journaling, music, drawing, venting to family and friends, exercising, etc., find an outlet to share the many experiences you will have. Don’t bottle up emotions; you don’t want emotions to escalate.
3. Remember, You Are A Team!
The other first responders on your team are your lifelines. Introduce yourself to everyone, get to know them and bond with them. Having support from other team members will benefit you greatly because you will need each other. You are working as a team to save lives and it’s important everyone works well together and respects each other. Use the buddy system and limit time alone as much as possible. Help each other out and communicate with each other; you will be spending a lot of time together and checking on each other regularly can also save your lives.
4. Pay Attention to How You Feel
Remember to be cognizant of how your body and mind feel. Don’t ignore signs of obvious exhaustion or stress because it will only get worse overtime. Try to practice coping skills earlier than later. If you are experiencing irritability, sadness, heightened emotions, dependency, insecure, numb, or like a failure, practice self care. If you feel yourself taking on a lot of what you are seeing, take a step back and regroup. There’s no point in being on the job if you are feeling off in any way.
5. Proactive Men's Wellness Practices
Last but not least, Mad Med utilizes many beneficial wellness practices by rejuvenating men’s bodies and improving their mindsets. Mad Med offers several services put in place to recharge men’s bodies. These services are including but chiropractic sessions, IV therapy, and hormone replacements. Chiropractors use their hands to align mainly your spine and alleviate pain. IV therapy improves physical performance, boosts mood and energy, increases recovery time after an injury, and improves sleep. Remember, there are plenty of resources out there if you are a first responder struggling/seeking advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and remind yourself to put yourself first no matter what.