Today – My Physical Needs

What are you planning to do today to take care of your physical needs?

One of the first and most basic elements of resilience is the care of our physical being.  Many of us don’t treat our body well, whether it’s through the kinds of food and beverages we put in it, to the care we take to avoid sickness and disease, to the shape we allow ourselves to get in because we don’t exercise the way we should.  A reasonable plan for taking care of ourselves physically would include about 30 minutes of moderate exercise on a daily basis.  Spending that 30 minutes to renew yourself physically has the potential to improve the quality of the rest of your day.  It will enhance your capacity to work, and to adapt, and to enjoy the time you spend on other things.  So set a reasonable standard for yourself in the area of staying fit physically and do your best to make that happen every day.

These are just some simple suggestions to help you get started, of course.  Take some time to discover the approach that’s right for you, but make sure you are doing something each day to promote your physical health.  Your body is the vessel that will carry you through your entire life’s journey, so you must be determined to treat it well!

If you’d like to chat with one of our peer supporters who can help you with this and other stress management approaches, please send a message to m.me/callforbackup.org and we’d be happy to make that happen. 

You Can Manage Stress through Social Support

Make sure you are connected to a close network of family and friends who will support you emotionally and love you unconditionally.  The simple act of talking face to face with another human being can release hormones that reduce stress even when the sufferer is unable to alter the stressful situation.  Opening up to someone is not a sign of weakness and it does not make the individual a burden to others.  Most first responders, about 52%, tell us that they are emotionally supported by a close network of family and friends.

A friend is someone you trust and share a deep level of understanding and communication. A good friend will show a genuine interest in what’s going on in your life, what you have to say, and how you think and feel about things; accept you for who you are; and listen to you attentively without judging you, telling you how to think or feel, or trying to change the subject.  Make sure you find someone in your network of family and friends that you can trust enough to confide in.  It will strengthen the bond you have with one another, and it will often lessen the likelihood that you may need some more serious type of intervention in the future.

How does having a strong social support network show up in your life?

  • You become thankful for the presence of the important people in your network, and find joy in hearing their words of encouragement and praise
  • You realize that there are times when you come up short, but your closest family and friends never give up on you
  • When you feel like giving up, your support network continues to push you to be the best version of yourself, and to live out the virtues that will take you where you want to be

Here’s something else that’s right on point:  Research tells us that the number one most important factor of human resilience is social support!

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. When was the last time I called a member of my social support network to thank them?
  2. How has the love and support of my network changed the course of my life?
  3. What can I do – today – to show my close family and friends that I appreciate them?

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 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.