Holidays are a time for fun and Santa Claus, who’s actually a firefighter. Stress still happens though. It’s actually pretty common for firefighters to experience some added stress during the holidays, and even depression this time of year. UC Davis points out that Holiday depression is a bit more common because of our activities. The time change, overeating, lack of sleep, family problems and increase alcohol use make it a scary time for someone who needs a hand.
And thats just for the average bear… and we know that firefighters aren’t average. In fact, firefighters deal with an insane amount of stress and problems on the regular. Throw in the hustle and bustle of Christmas and it can be a lot to handle, especially when all of the firefighter training didn’t really cover stress management. This article by Fire Engineering has some great tips for Holiday suicide awareness. Since stressed Firefighters tend to carry a lot of baggage.
Even though they have an absolutely amazing job, it does come with some downsides.
Dealing with too much over the Christmas season is a real problem that lots of people face, especially firefighters. Not only do you have holiday drama, depression and crazy weather but you also have to deal with your job. Sometimes the holiday calls are anything but cheery, you are the ones trying to save those unfortunate to be hurt this holiday season.
Hopefully, some of these stress reducing tips below help during this years festivities.
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Create a Thankful list (and it goes hand in hand with thanksgiving!)
Commercialism has really turned the holidays into a fast paced mad house. Getting a thankful list together is a quick and easy way to get your priorities straight and lift that stress off your shoulders. No, you don’t have to carry the world on your back. Take the time to really look at what you are thankful for and find some peace in letting go of stuff that isn’t as important. As firefighters, we know how quickly things can change. Let the people in your life know how thankful you are for them.
Bonfire, Fireplace, Candles
Lets face it, like 99.99% of Firefighters are pyromaniacs. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but you guys love fire! So while a smoke showing call gets your adrenaline going, a safely controlled fire can help you relax. Take it a step further and try those fancy scented candles that help to reduce stress. Firemen, thats what you call a ‘two for one!’
Prayer and meditation (try sitting for 20 mins with no distractions, no phone, no TV- just chill.)
I always reference prayer and meditation when it comes to stressful situations because there is a lot of hope in knowing that you aren’t alone. Another thing that goes along with this is finding a quite place and sitting/laying uninterrupted for 20 mins. No phone, No TV, no music, nobody nagging in your ear. Just take the time to clear those crazy thoughts and figure out why the heck your brain is not your friend all the time. Don’t DO anything. No driving or fidgeting. Just be comfortable in your own skin. Chances are, you’ll figure out whats really been bothering you.
Avoid the stress
Do you have a particular event coming up that is making you wig out? Well… if at all possible, just cancel. And if you can’t cancel, come up with a quick exit. More than likely, not many people are going to miss you (it’s just that your anxiety tells you otherwise!). And don’t wait for the day of to do it, causing you to be stressed about it for weeks. Know what your limits are, Your health is important! Make some quick solid decision and move on with the other Holiday Fun. Its what the perfect firefighter would do.
Looking for something nonaddictive that the natural folks say helps with stress. The little tablets or droplets called “Rescue Remedy” are a combination of a few homeopathic remedies and can help with stress. We’re not saying they are going to magically heal a broken bone (because they won’t) but they DO help with taking the edge off- no illicit activity required. These little tablets are so handy we keep them in the house and the car, because sometimes holiday road rage happens. Check it out on here.
Drop the Toxic People
Do you have family members you just cant stand? Just send them a card instead. I’m serious. No point in the two of you having a staring contest and then comparing your wins over the last year. Is someone at work bothering you? Just steer clear of them. Tada! It’s not rocket science. It’s proven that you will be 100% happier not dealing with people that piss you off.
Life is too short for the nonsense
Dealing with too much over the Christmas season is a real problem that lots of people face, especially firefighters. Stress has a huge impact on your life, and sometimes the stress isn’t even worth it. I know for my Firefighter, we have to step back and evaluate what is really important.
Have some grace on yourself. What you deal with in one shift, people can hardly image. Yes, you are tough, but take time this holiday season to take care of yourself and your family. Firefighters rescue others, but sometimes they need to rescue themselves. I know lots of firefighters that think they are indestructible, but lets be honest, it’s ok to know your limits, it’s part of what brings you home to your family.
So tell me, do you have any suggestions for the rookie and the ole salty dog when it comes to the holiday madness? Leave me a comment below!