Holidays are a time for fun and Santa Claus (who’s actually a firefighter) but they also come with an added bonus.
Stress. And we all know Firefighters aren’t immune to stressors of all kinds. In fact, it comes with the job description.
It’s actually pretty common for firefighters to experience some added stress during the holidays, and even depression this time of year. And it can be difficult for Firefighter Wives too, especially if you are still new to the firefighter life with the holidays.
So why do we have all this added stress especially for our first responders?
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 that’s 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.
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.
We’re going to check out some real solutions to real problems this holiday season- it’s time that more firefighters enjoyed the festivities.
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What can we do about Holiday Stress? actually, we can do a lot!
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.
Let the people in your life know how thankful you are for them and focus on the stuff that money can’t buy.
Take a minute to chill
Lets face it, like 99.99% of Firefighters are pyromaniacs. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but seriously… So while a smoke showing call gets your adrenaline going, a safely controlled fire can help you relax and help your vagus system relax .
Take it a step further and try those fancy scented candles that help to reduce stress. Set the ‘mood’ and relax outside with a bonfire, or snuggle up to a fireplace.
Use the flames to help you meditate and practice some deep breathing (safely of course- no smoke inhalation please!).
Claim your garden
There’s an old saying where it talks about how your brain is a garden plot.
You can either grow weeds or plants- it’s almost impossible to grow both because the weeds will choke out the plants. So you have a choice, what are you going to grow?
Are you praying? Meditating? Letting go of things you can’t control?
Another thing that goes along with this is finding a quiet 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.
Easier said than done… and a good reminder that if you are having trouble setting aside time for relaxation, it’s a good time to talk to someone for help.
Your station Chaplain, a Counselor or Therapist, your Physician, a member in your Religious Community. All may be able to help you find peace.
Just say F it
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.
Take an Integrated approach
In our fire house, we use all the options available to loosen stress. Sometimes that means adding in an extra workout, sometimes that means scheduling another counseling session.
We are a huge fan of rescue remedy in our house. The little tablets or droplets are a combination of natural plant 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.
And if you find that the natural stuff doesn’t do it for you, make sure you talk to your Healthcare professional about options for managing your extra stress.
It’s not ok to do nothing and spiral out of control with anxiety and stress, especially when there are some great things to help.
Kick em to the curb (you have permission)
Do you have family members you just cant stand? Just send them a card instead.
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.
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.
Let’s prioritize what matters!
I hope you know that you aren’t alone with all of this holiday madness- it’s common for this time of year to be hectic with the amount of bad calls or with dealing with the non stop calls. Keep your head up and find what works for you!