As a first responder, you’re no stranger to stress. Between managing critical situations, handling emergencies, and all the other demands of your job. It’s unsurprising that anxiety is common among first responders. But how do you manage it? It may seem impossible at times, but there are ways to keep your anxiety in check, and even reduce its severity as time goes on.
Develop a Routine
If you’re struggling with anxiety, it can be helpful to establish a routine. Routine, or “routine maintenance” as some call it, is the practice of making time for the things that bring you joy and self-care. The goal of developing this habit is to create structure in your life so that there are clear boundaries between work and home life.
Establishing your routines can help you feel more grounded when responding to calls or during an emergency situation. It also helps set realistic expectations and goals for yourself which will make managing stress easier overall.
As a first responder, flexibility is important. This can mean being able to change your plan on the fly when you’re on the scene of an emergency. It can also mean developing your own ways of coping with stress and anxiety, such as meditation or exercise.
The key is being open-minded about trying new things that might help you feel less stressed and more in control of your life. Even if it means doing something totally different from what you’ve done before, embrace flexibility.
One of the best things you can do to manage your anxiety while working as a first responder is to find enjoyable activities to do every single day. This doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive. It can be as simple as going for a walk in the park. If you’re unable to get outside, you could also go to a movie theater and watch something that interests you. Maybe even take time out of your day for some self-care: read a book, listen to music, or meditate.
Whatever it is, make sure that whatever activity eases your stress level and keeps those pesky anxieties at bay is part of your daily routine.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise is a great way to manage your anxiety. The endorphins that are released by exercise can help you feel happier and less stressed, which will make it easier to cope with stressors in the future. Exercise also helps with sleep quality, which is important since lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety and depression.
Finally, physical activity can be a great way to relieve your body’s stress response if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed by something stressful that happened during the day. You’ll be able to mentally focus on something other than what happened earlier in the day when you’re exercising.
Avoid Substances as a Coping Mechanism
Avoiding substances as a coping mechanism is one of the best ways to manage anxiety. It’s important to note that while substances can be useful in managing short-term stress, it often leads to problems like depression and heart disease. In addition, many first responders experience post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their work, which can make it difficult for them to avoid addictive behaviors like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. If you’re experiencing these symptoms yourself and want help finding resources for recovery programs in California, contact us today.
Talk to Someone
As a first responder, you are the go-to person in an emergency. You’re the one who is relied on by your colleagues and friends to be stable, calm, and in control, even when you might not feel like it at all. If you’re struggling with anxiety, it can be hard to figure out how to manage those feelings on your own.
If talking about your experiences is difficult for you, know that there are plenty of people who understand what it’s like to live with mental health issues. Talking can help relieve stress and bring clarity about how best to deal with difficult situations as they arise. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some extra support.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Because you have a difficult occupation, you don’t have to beat yourself up for feeling anxious every now and then. It is normal and it happens to everyone at some point in their lives. Don’t feel guilty about having anxiety because not everyone can handle the trauma that you see every day as a first responder. Don’t feel like you are a failure because of your anxiety either. There are plenty of people out there who have the same thing going on as you do.
Additionally, hiding your struggles might only make things worse down the road when things start getting stressful again. Stress is a normal part of life, everyone has it. Try not to be too hard on yourself when you get those feelings too.
Working as a first responder can be stressful. You need to be able to stay calm and focused while dealing with dangerous situations you must find ways to manage your stress so that it doesn’t affect your work performance or interfere with your ability to perform duties as required by law. Developing a routine and sticking with it will help keep anxiety at bay, along with other coping mechanisms such as exercise and fun activities. Taking the time to talk to someone and work out some of your anxieties can go a long way. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, please reach out to us. Please call us at, (949) 647-4090.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.