You Can Manage Stress by Living on Purpose

Working as a first responder is hard, but you sought out that work because you believed there was a great purpose behind it.  If you have lost it, focus on finding it again.  The good news we’ve found out at Call for Backup is that only about 12% of first responders say they either “Never” or “Rarely” derive a sense of purpose from their work.

One of the greatest exercises in which you could engage is to create a personal mission statement.  Franklin Covey has an online tool for building a personal mission statement, and I would highly recommend it: https://msb.franklincovey.com/  Stephen Covey, author of the best-selling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has this to say about personal mission statements:

“What is a mission statement you ask? personal mission statements based on correct principles are like a personal constitution, the basis for making major, life-directing decisions, the basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives.  When we create a mission statement of our own and choose to live by it we can flow with changes.  We don’t need pre-judgements or prejudices.  We don’t need to figure out everything else in life, to stereotype and categorize everything and everybody in order to accommodate reality.  As we go deeply within ourselves, as we understand and realign our basic paradigms to bring them harmony with correct principles, we create both an effective, empowering center and a clear lens through which we can see the world. We can then focus that lens on how we, as unique individuals, relate to that world.”

What can you do, starting today, to live with a sense of purpose?

  • Arm yourself with a plan and the knowledge of what you need to do.  Make every single day count and you live each day on purpose.
  • Make decisions intentionally, and only choose those things that are consistent with your purpose and what you value most.
  • Be an example and take pride in the fact that you can also inspire others to be purpose-driven in their lives as well.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. How can I better plan my days for success?
  2. How can I make my life count today?
  3. What is one thing I have been putting off that I can accomplish today?

If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you.  If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365.  Always free.  Always confidential.

Would you like to help make sure Call for Backup is there for those who reach out to us? Please check out our merchandise in the online store HERE.

You Can Manage Stress by Strengthening Your Primary Relationship

Whether it is a spouse or other partner, you should place a high value on that relationship and always take steps to keep improving it.  It’s encouraging to know that about 62% of first responders tell us that they “Often” or “Always” follow this advice.

Many couples find that the face-to-face contact of their early dating days is gradually replaced by hurried texts, emails, and instant messages.  While digital communication is great for some purposes, it doesn’t positively impact your brain and nervous system in the same way as face-to-face communication.  The emotional cues you both need to feel loved can only be conveyed in person, so no matter how busy life gets, it’s important to carve out time to spend together.

It’s not always easy to talk about what you need.  Even when you’ve got a good idea of what’s important to you in a relationship, talking about it can make you feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or even ashamed. But look at it from your partner’s point of view.  Providing comfort and understanding to someone you love is a pleasure, not a burden. So tell your partner what you need.  And remember, everyone changes over time.  What you needed from your partner five years ago may be different from what you need now. 

Don’t let disagreements fester and grow into bigger problems.  Some couples argue quietly, while others raise their voices and passionately disagree.  The key is not to be fearful of disagreement but see it as an opportunity to grow the relationship.  Both people in a relationship need to express the things that bother them without fear of humiliation or retaliation from their partner.  Being able to do so can help improve you as individuals and as a couple.

Here are some simple ways to connect as a couple face-to-face:

  • First, commit to spending some quality time together every day on a regular basis.  Even during the busiest times, just a few minutes of really sharing and connecting can help keep bonds strong. 
  • Next, find something that you enjoy doing together, whether it is a shared hobby, dance class, daily walk, or sitting over a cup of coffee in the morning. 
  • Finally, try something new together. Doing new things together can be a fun way to connect and keep things interesting. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going on a day trip to a place you’ve never been before.

You will always enjoy holding the hand of someone who shares your vision for the future.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. How can I work today toward strengthening my partnership?
  2. How can I show appreciation for the unique qualities my partner brings to our relationship?
  3. What is one step I can take to show a genuine expression of my love for my partner?

If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you.  If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365.  Always free.  Always confidential.

Would you like to help make sure Call for Backup is there for those who reach out to us? Please check out our merchandise in the online store HERE.

You Can Manage Stress by Communicating Clearly

Learn positive ways to express your feelings. Stress often causes us to behave in ways that hurt others, so expressing ourselves appropriately is key to handling difficult situations and people.  Our research indicates that only about 7% of first responders “Always” express themselves carefully and appropriately, while another 36% say they “Often” do.

First responders tend to be more assertive in their communication, and when expressed poorly, assertiveness can be mistaken for aggressiveness.  This only throws up barriers to good communication.  Direct, assertive expression makes for clear communication and can help boost your self-esteem and decision-making.  Being assertive means expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and honest way, while standing up for yourself and respecting others.  It does not mean being hostile, aggressive, or demanding. 

Effective communication is always about understanding the other person, not about winning an argument or forcing your opinions on others.  While your opinions are as important as anyone else’s, be careful so that you are expressing yourself without seeming to infringe on the rights of others.  If you have negative thoughts, try to express them in a positive way.  It’s okay to be angry, but you should attempt to be respectful as well.  Here are some important strategies to guide you:

  • Talking things out with others opens avenues for better communication.  It’s okay to speak up for yourself.  You, like anyone else, have a right to be heard, express your point of view, and expect others to listen to what you have to say.  However, those rights also carry the responsibility to be respectful in the way you communicate.  If you lose your temper, you lose your self-control, and also your credibility.
  • Open lines of communication help to minimize confusion.  You may misunderstand what someone else has said, and that causes you to become stressed.  Remember, just like you want to be heard and understood, make sure you are giving other people the same benefit by listening, and communicating openly and respectfully with them.
  • When you want to be understood, gentle words will be most effective.  Sounding threatening accomplishes very little and solves nothing.  In fact, it will often leave you feeling embarrassed and defeated.  When you are involved in a dispute, you have the capability of incorporating words into your vocabulary that convey kindness and gentleness, and communicating in that way increases the likelihood of coming to an agreement.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. How can I use my words to combat stress?
  2. What has stopped me from talking things out with others in the past?
  3. What qualities do I have that make me a good communicator?

If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you.  If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365.  Always free.  Always confidential.

Would you like to help make sure Call for Backup is there for those who reach out to us? Please check out our merchandise in the online store HERE.

You Can Manage Stress by Setting Goals

Being future-oriented makes a difference when it comes to responding to the effects of stress.  Our research shows, though, that only about one-third of first responders say they either “often” or “always” set both short- and long-term goals and update them at appropriate intervals.  About the same number say their either “rarely” or “never” do!

It has been said that “when there is no faith in the future there is no power in the present.”  Are you setting specific goals for the future?  Do you know how to go about reaching those goals?  One of the best ways to make it through each day feeling less stressed is developing the ability to prioritize what needs to be done.  Don’t let the important things you are trying to accomplish get bumped out of the way by all of the interruptions that tend to come along.  Make every day count, and take one day at a time.  I tell people all of the time, just put one foot in front of the other and move in the right direction.  When you have set, and continue to reach, appropriate goals in your daily life, you will experience increased motivation, become better at decision making, you’ll perform better on projects, you will find that you have better work-life balance, and overall, you will enjoy an enhanced quality of life.

Keep your eyes are on the future.  Directing your attention towards the time ahead changes the way you think. It becomes easier to resist temptations. You become more motivated to put forth your best effort, and you are consistently clarifying your goals.  Consider how your future will be affected if the following things are true for you:

  • Take initiative at work and assume more responsibility.  If you have the opportunity for additional continuing education and training, take it.
  • Devote your leisure time to activities that can reward you in the future.  Learn a new language, start a vegetable garden, or read inspiring books.  Spend time with family and friends, solidify relationships, and make great memories for the years ahead.
  • Think about your financial goals, and practice saving money.   Have an emergency fund, set up college funds for your children, and put money aside for your retirement.  Stick to your budget and make wise investments.
  • Examine how your actions affect your health.  Your already know that regular exercise and a nutritious diet protect your heart and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

You will be more successful when you look ahead, track your progress, and adjust your strategies when necessary.  And you’ll be more resilient.  Circumstances are always changing, so when those changes are uncomfortable, being future-oriented helps you focus on the good things that are yet to come.

Today, embrace the future.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. Why is it worthwhile to exchange short term gains for long term benefits?
  2. How can I balance living in the present with preparing for the future?
  3. What are three lifestyle changes I can make to enhance my future well-being?

If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you.  If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365.  Always free.  Always confidential.

Would you like to help make sure Call for Backup is there for those who reach out to us? Please check out our merchandise in the online store HERE.

You Can Manage Stress by Practicing Your Faith

Our research shows that individuals who actively practice some type of faith are significantly less likely to suffer from the effects of stress. The number 1 spiritual practice among first responders is some from of prayer or meditation; yet research conducted by Call for Backup shows that 22% of first responders say they never meditate or pray about things that are beyond their control, versus only 12% who say they always do.

Prayer and meditation are proven to help people make it through stressful moments, find connection to a source of peace, and help them to stay calm.  Prayer and meditation can help those who practice them stand firm when waves of uncertainty come their way.  Prayer is an act of faith that reminds us that there is someone bigger than us who cares for us.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities?  Do you ever need to just clear your mind and organize your thoughts?  Praying for relief from confusion, fears, thoughts, and anxious feelings can help shut out the noise from the world around you and build up your faith.

When you meditate, you can strengthen the core muscles of your being that keep you from drowning in fear and stress.  You can strengthen your mind against negativity by thinking about things that are pure, and lovely, and right.  The more you meditate about goodness, the more it becomes a part of you.  Think lofty thoughts, because you have the potential to become whatever your mind is set on.

So find and engage in a spiritual practice that helps bring you a sense of peace.  While we are not here to endorse any particular religion or faith tradition, it is certain that having a spiritual component in your life – especially prayer or meditation – will aid you in managing the stresses associated with the work you do.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. How can I increase the time I spend in prayer and meditation?
  2. What is an important prayer that I have today?
  3. What have I set my mind on?

If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you.  If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365.  Always free.  Always confidential.

Would you like to help make sure Call for Backup is there for those who reach out to us? Please check out our merchandise in the online store HERE.