Stress does not only affect your mood or emotions. Exterior stress on the body can also actually cause physical harm.

Studies suggest that stress on the brain causes neural pathways between the amygdala and hippocampus, which are emotional regulators, to break down. Stress has also been proven to reduce attention to detail as well as some fine motor function. Now I am sure that fact is currently stressing you out now. The idea behind this article is to understand stressors and how to deal with them.

Dealing with stress does not have just one specific solution. This comes with knowing your body and understanding what are causing your specific stressors. It is always important to understand the limits of your mental capacity regarding stress. It is easy to try to overlook these indicators, but setting breaks throughout the day or things to remind you to administer self-care can be helpful. If you can preplan your breaks, then you are not interrupting workflow but are instead adhering to a schedule. This is an important anti-stress technique, because a timetable helps you meet goals, which leads to reduced stress.

In the emergency service industry, the first step to making a situation better is scene safety. This is us making sure that we can effectively help others while not placing ourselves in harm’s way. How can we show others compassion effectively if we first do not show compassion to ourselves? It is never selfish to self-care. Sometimes being a better parent, spouse, employee or volunteer means you have time set aside for yourself. It is important to know what recharges your batteries though. Also, know that some days the same techniques won’t always work. If you have a headache, maybe loud music is not the best. If a dirty house is causing you stress, maybe reading a book will not help. There are different types of self-care depending on the situation. For some individuals it is quiet time with a book. For me personally, it’s my spouse. You would be surprised how far a simple hug can take you.

Most of all, you matter. It is imperative for you to know this. Burnout is a real issue, and stress is physically detrimental. It is OK not to be OK. Remember that even garbagemen take their trash somewhere else.

Jeramiah Wisdom is a firefighter for Fort Riley Fire & Emergency Services and the outreach coordinator for CASA of the 8th Judicial District.

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