By Nicholas Greco, M.S., BCETS, CATSM, FAAETS, IPSA Mental Health Committee Chair
Emergency responders and healthcare professionals have stressful jobs due to the type of work they perform. During a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, these professionals may start to feel overwhelmed and have higher levels of stress. While they may be physically prepared to respond to a higher volume of public needs, it is important for them be mindful of maintaining their mental health and overall well-being.
Here are some quick and useful tips for emergency responders and healthcare providers to reduce stress:
- Talk. Yes, it’s that simple. Talk with those you trust. Start with a good friend or your spouse or partner and involve them. You can’t carry the weight all by yourself and you don’t have to.
- Accept your limitations. You are not invincible, you, just like every other human can and will make mistakes. You need to rest, recharge and center yourself.
- Meditate. Even taking two minutes of quiet time can make a big difference in helping you to stop and take a step back. Other options include yoga and deep breathing too (e.g. inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds and repeat a few times).
- Exercise. Lift weights, do some push-ups, run outdoors or on a treadmill, hit the heavy bag, practice yoga, go for a walk – just do something active. Get out there and burn off some steam in a healthy way. If you don’t have the time, make time and take a brisk twenty-minute walk. Even five minutes walking outside could be beneficial.
- Sleep. Easier said than done, but sleep is restorative and promotes both physical and mental health. Ideally, you should try to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
- Hydrate. That means cutting back on the high caffeine power drinks and weight gaining sodas. Water is an optimal choice and you can flavor it with sliced fruit, cucumbers or even some non-caffeinated drink additives. Just read the labels.
- The power of pets. Research has consistently shown that the mere act of petting an animal can reduce stress levels, blood pressure and help a person’s mood.
- Reconnect. Take time to spend with your family and reconnect with them. They need you as much as you need them to get through this.
- Take breaks from the news. Step back, turn off the TV, put down the phone, disconnect from the world to avoid negative news. Set aside times in the day when you will check the news, but don’t constantly check throughout the day as this can raise stress levels. When you do get your news, only go to reliable sources. Do not feed into rumors and social media.
- Talk to someone. If you find yourself unable to talk with friends or family or simply want to seek out greater peace in your life, make an appointment with a trained therapist.
About the Author
NICHOLAS GRECO IV, M.S., B.C.E.T.S., C.A.T.S.M., F.A.A.E.T.S., is President and Founder of C3 Education and Research, Inc. Nick has over 20 years of experience training civilians and law enforcement. He has directed, managed and presented on over 350 training programs globally across various topics including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, verbal de-escalation techniques, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout, and vicarious traumatization. Nick has authored over 300 book reviews and has authored or co-authored over 35 articles in psychiatry and psychology. He is a subject matter expert for PoliceOne/Lexipol and Axon as well as a CIT trainer for the Chicago Police Department and the the State of Illinois. Nick is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), IACP, IPSA, and CIT International, as well as Committee Chair for the IPSA Mental Health Committee. Nick can be reached at email@example.com
IPSA Mental Health Infographics
IPSA COVID-19 Webpage