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.

You Can Manage Stress by Letting Go of the Past

People often carry hurts from the past along with them. Instead, let go of those things and set your mind on the promise of the future.  In fact, according to research being conducted by Call for Backup, it appears that only about 12% of first responders would say that they “always” resolve hurts or issues from the past and look forward to a promising future.

Many of the past issues that cause the most distress have to do with unresolved personal conflicts.  When we learn how to handle conflict better, we not only help our relationships, but we help ourselves stay healthier and more resilient against stress.  To help avoid conflicts that continue to hurt you, try practicing these simple principles:

  • First, make conflict resolution the priority rather than winning or “being right.”  Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority.   Be respectful of the other person and their viewpoint. 
  • Next, focus on the present.  If you’re holding on to grudges based on past conflicts, your ability to see the reality of the current situation will be impaired.  Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here-and-now to solve the problem. 
  • Then, be willing to forgive.  Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive others. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can serve only to deplete and drain your life. 
  • Finally, know when to let something go.  If you can’t come to an agreement, determine whether the disagreement is significant enough to maintain the relationship. Since it takes two people to keep an argument going, if a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.

Today, you can throw away grudges from the past, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with extending forgiveness.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the barriers that make it difficult for me to forgive?
  2. How does forgiveness make me happier?
  3. Is there one person I could choose to forgive 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 Learning to Relax

According to our research at Call for Backup, only about one-third of first responders often or always take regular breaks during the day and regular days off to relax, and about another one-third say they never or rarely do.  The rest find themselves somewhere in the middle.  The old “all work and no play” adage really is true.  Everyone needs to learn and practice some techniques to initiate the body’s natural relaxation response.

The world is filled with negative influences, and it’s important for those who work in emergency services and often see the worst of what is going on in the world to embrace the influence of having some quiet time to practice remaining calm and composed.  What are some things that we can do during our planned quiet times that will give us the result we need?

  1. Deep breathing.  Listening only to the sounds of your breath can be extremely relaxing. Taking deep breaths in and out calms your mind and your soul. It can work wonders in equipping you to confront challenging days and difficult people.  You may be surprised to see how practicing deep breathing can help you develop a peaceful disposition that aptly tackles the toughest moments.
  2. Daily exercise.  Moderate exercise each day that allows you to practice focused movement without distraction is a great way to relax.  With nothing but your mind and your body to focus on, you can unplug from technology, and focus on your efforts.  As you exercise, your body is producing higher levels of endorphins, your “feel good” hormones, that promote the body’s own relaxation response.
  3. Defined purpose.  Three of life’s greatest questions are: Who am I?  Why am I here?  Where am I going?  Being one with your purpose is important in accepting what life throws your way.  When you have a sense of purpose, there are very few things that will be able to rattle your nerves.

Self-Reflection Questions

  1. How do I achieve quiet time when I am constantly on the go?
  2. How else do I develop a calm nature?
  3. What are some of the techniques I use to restore calmness after I am rattled?

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 Limiting Alcohol and Caffeine

Enjoying an adult beverage in moderation and having a limited number of caffeinated beverages a day may not be harmful, but excessive consumption of either will lessen your resistance to stress. Our research reveals some frightening results – that nearly half of all first responders say they have a hard time avoiding excessive alcohol and/or caffeine at least some of the time!

Even so-called “tee-totalers” (total abstainers from alcohol) are likely to believe that consumption of alcohol in moderation has little, if any, ill effects on the consumer.  But that is not what we are talking about here.  The relationship between alcoholism and stress is not in dispute, and the relationship between first responders coping with extreme amounts of stress and attempting to find relief through alcohol consumption is not in dispute either.  It is no coincidence that in a study done regarding police suicide, data showed that the majority of the individuals completing a suicide had alcohol in their system at the time.  While a drink, sometimes two, can be okay, excessive drinking can cause a great deal of turmoil in other parts of the individual’s life and contributes to greater amounts of stress in the long run.  It is best to find other methods of coping with stress that do not actually exacerbate the problem.

Police officers and other first responders in many communities get free coffee from local shops, and they supplement that with sodas with high caffeine content as well as energy drinks that give that short burst from both the caffeine and sugar contained in them.  But do you know why you need that boost at all?  Because you have a caffeine addiction.  People addicted to caffeine use some form of it to start their day, then consume more throughout the day as they suffer from caffeine crashes, then they find their sleep disturbed by caffeine, so they are tired in the morning, and they need caffeine to jump-start their day . . . and you can see how the cycle perpetuates.  In the long run, caffeine consumption does not alleviate stress, but contributes to its grip on the life of the individual.

Self-Reflection Questions

  1. Do I drink primarily to be social with others?
  2. Do I drink because I believe it relieves stress?
  3. Am I capable of proving to myself that I can go for extended periods without alcohol or caffeine?

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.