Maintaining a good level mental health is crucial for Firefighters, who already have to work hard to ensure their physical health is in good form. Long hours, challenging working conditions and often disrupted sleep patterns can really have an effect on both mental and physical wellbeing.
Taking care of your mental health as a firefighter is crucial – both for your own wellbeing and to allow you to perform your role to the best of your ability.
Being a firefighter can mean that you may witness some difficult and harrowing situations, which can take a huge toll on your mental health if not worked through and dealt with in the right way.
October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and it’s an opportunity to look at and speak out about this important, and often taboo, subject.
Don’t suffer in silence
Talk to someone – in person or on the phone, or even via message or email. Whether it’s a family member, a close friend or a colleague, it can really help. Often you’ll find that other people aren’t coping as well as you might think either – it isn’t just you!
Write it down
It can be incredibly therapeutic to get negative thoughts and anxieties out of your head and on to paper. It can also help you work through your thoughts, and think about how you can deal with a situation.
People do this in various ways – some people prefer to write regularly in a journal and others just get their thoughts out onto a piece of paper which they’ll then throw in the bin. Whichever way works best for you, try it!
Make healthy choices
We know that healthy living and getting enough sleep is sometimes difficult, especially whe n you already have a busy lifestyle But you don’t need to completely change your lifestyle right away!
Take small steps, and change one thing at a time. Try a week of swapping fizzy drinks for water, or going to bed half an hour earlier. Then build on it from there.
Eating healthily can be hugely beneficial to your mood, and getting even a small amount of extra sleep can make a huge difference to your day.
Getting out and going for a walk, even for 15 minutes, can really help to clear your head. Exercise (whether simple or more strenuous) has been proven to help elevate your mood by boosting your endorphin levels.
Some psychologists suggest that a 10-minute walk could be as good as a 45-minute workout in helping combat feelings of depression and anxiety.
Do whats best for you
Try a little self care! If you’ve finished a shift and would rather curl up in front of the TV a cupppa thhan go for a night on the town then politely decline and do what’s best for you. It’s ok to say no now and again!
Similarly on your downtime spend time your days off doing what you need to do to feel happy and de-stress – don’t burn yourself our trying to live up to the expectations of others or trying to please everyone.
If its getting too much, get help!
We can’t emphasise this enough. If you feel like you’re struggling and nothing seems to be helping then seek help from your GP, and make sure that your station is aware of the situation.
Don’t let it go unchecked as this can have devastating consequences.
Remember there are organisations you can contact who will be happy to advice you on where you can get the right help, let you know your rights as an employee or just listen and provide emotional support.
You can find a list of useful contact details via the mentalhealth.org.uk site here.