July 8

A Firefighter’s Guide to Managing Stress

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According to a recent study, firefighting is ranked as the most stressful occupation out of 200 different jobs. This conclusion was arrived at after researchers observed the physical, emotional, and environmental factors that firefighters are subjected to when working. The physical factors include crawling, stooping too low, and bending.

In the emotional aspect, they considered factors like contact with the public and degrees of competitiveness. The study also took into account the attitudes towards hiring, level of income, physical demands, and the level of stress.

The study revealed that firefighters often work irregular hours and have to remain on call all night long. While on duty, they face the risk of heat exhaustion, serious injury, and smoke inhalation. The state of anticipation as they respond to an emergency can also be stressful.

How to Recognize and Accept Stress

About 73% of firefighters have post-traumatic stress disorder, and they don’t even realize it. The first step towards dealing with the condition is to recognize its signs. Although people respond differently to stress issues, acceptance is crucial in finding the right management strategy.

Unfortunately, most firefighters refuse to acknowledge that they’re stressed or are suffering from emotional disturbance. As risk-takers, they’re unlikely to disclose emotional turmoil as this is usually viewed as a weakness. Some of them resort to self-medication while others become moody, emotionally volatile, and withdrawn.

All this can be prevented if one recognizes and admits the signs of stress. When correctly identified, chronic stress can be managed before it gives way to mental health problems and brain alteration.

Self-Care and Stress Management Techniques

There are Critical Incident Stress Debriefing interventions among firefighters. Although they are useful in supporting these professionals to increase their emotional resilience, they need more than this.

Other stress release mechanisms for firefighters can be used at a personal level. They can incorporate the following activities into their routine to become better versions of themselves.

Exercise

Exercise, both light and intense, is one of the most effective approaches to dealing with stress. It applies not just to firefighters but everyone who’s trying to manage their stress levels. During exercise, the body releases neurotransmitters into the brain to create a feel-good reaction.

During competitive games or training sessions, the mind focuses on the activity and is distracted from the stress factors. Regular exercise is effective in clearing the mind from cumulative stress. Firefighters should be on the lookout for training programs that encompass workouts for firefighters. It would help to create a routine that builds on the core strength and balance.

Hobby

Having a hobby to pursue also helps to ease tension. Bird-watching, fishing, writing, painting, and music are some excellent activities that can bring happiness if followed regularly.

Quality Time with Family

Friends and family can be handy in helping firefighters overcome stress. Talking to them and knowing that someone cares will go a long way in healing the internal and unseen wounds. Children, especially, have a therapeutic effect that can take away the pain.

Final Thoughts

Firefighters undergo a lot of stress and trauma in the course of their work. Without a supportive circle, it’s hard for them to overcome the situation. While they can get professional help, it also helps to take action at a personal level. Good exercise, eating right, and talking it out will go a long way in helping the situation.


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