First Responders and Mental Health: Self-Awareness

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By Marie B., Former First Responder

 Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged last but here we are. August. Hot, cranky patients and partners. Yes, we are in the heat of it all. For First Responders, it’s a tough time of year. Its hot. You’re on your 2nd call of the day and you already need to change out your socks or even underwear. You feel short tempered. And your only about an hour into your shift. I know exactly how you feel. So, something to keep in mind. It is Self-Awareness Month, i.e., take care of yourself month.

 So, what is self-awareness? I’m glad you asked. I turned to to find the “official” answer. They state that self-awareness is understanding why you think, feel, and behave in specific ways. Their example is: if you are dealing with addiction, part of self-awareness is recognizing negative behavior patterns and where they’re coming from. Which for First Responders, addiction is a big problem. The website goes on to say, “knowing why you behave in certain ways and what aggravates certain behavior patterns allows you to proactively address the issues.” With that knowledge, you can fight addiction.

 Self-care is a very helpful way to take care of yourself. Drinking plenty of water and electrolyte drinks that help keep your body healthy in this crazy heat, also squeezing in a light meal while at work. But we know this. We have been working in these conditions for years. What we often forget to do is take care of ourselves mentally. Self-care isn’t just baths and chocolates. It’s about knowing your limits. Take care of your body and mind. Get some sleep. Rest. Like really rest. Get lost in a good book or TV show. Rest your mind. Find something to do that will help you fight your way through a hard situation. If you are having a hard time fighting through a tough time, reach out to someone you can trust. Find some activities that you love.

 If you are having a hard time and need someone to talk to you, you can always call on us. We are here to help. We are trying to break this stigma of seeking counseling. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you stronger in knowing that you are taking steps to help yourself. It is proof that you are cut out to do the job. There is no need to suffer. Being a first responder is a very tough job both physically and mentally. We do a decent job of taking care of our body. Why not our minds? Go over to HR and ask for the EAP (employee assistance program) and give us a call. It is confidential. Our number is 803-851-4049.

 And as always, please take care of yourself in this heat. Eat small meals and hydrate! Relax and rest. Give that awesome mind of yours a break.