Are you looking for balance? Here’s how first responders can find it during the holidays

Mental Health | Recovery

As soon as the Thanksgiving holiday rolls around, it’s go, go, go throughout the season and that can become overwhelming very quickly. 

For a first responder, like yourself, you’re constantly on the go during your work-life; and it’s incredibly easy to lose balance amidst the slew of holidays that occupy our time and mental capacity. 

As a public safety professional, working through the holidays while maintaining a family life, personal health, and social life may feel like juggling more than you can handle. As a result, you may start to feel a loss of balance. 

On top of the heightened anxiety in the air as the holiday season approaches, first responders also deal with increased work schedule conflicts, and many can’t get time off to spend with family and friends. Trying to balance these commitments can lead to an elevation in mental strain among first responders. 

It can be helpful to determine your priorities, schedule them to the best of your ability, maintain healthy habits, and communicate emotions you find difficult to handle. 

If you find yourself losing balance, these four tips can help: 

Simply say no

First things first, it’s okay to say, “NO.”

To avoid spreading yourself too thin during the holidays, realize it’s okay to say “no” to specific events or errands that are conflicting with your priorities. 

Agreeing to attend every event or occasion can even put a strain on your mental health and well-being, especially if they conflict with other priorities.

Many people will understand that you have limited free time because of your schedule, which is the holidays. Politely saying “no” to an event stressing you out can make more room for you to say “yes” to your priorities. 

And remember, if you said already agreed to something, you’re not beholden to that commitment; you can change your mind.

Determine YOUR priorities

You may already have a strong understanding of your priorities, as this is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a first responder in recovery and after. 

However, new obligations will arise during the holidays, and your priorities may shift. 

To help you manage this, we recommend writing down a quick list of things you’re thankful for. 

Taking time to look closely at what matters to you can help you get your priorities straight. It can also help you find peace in letting go of certain things that aren’t essential once you determine what’s necessary; letting go of what is not required will give you more time to focus on your priorities, thus giving you more life balance. 

Plan ahead, be reasonable 

Let’s not underestimate the power of planning. Planning is critical in maintaining balance, as it allows you to determine beforehand if your commitments and priorities align, and if it begins to stress you out because they don’t align, remember you can say “no.”

Take the time to plan with reasonable expectations by looking at the schedules of your family and friends. Sometimes this means celebrating a day before or after the actual holiday or having multiple celebrations. The more you can figure out ahead of time, the less stress you may feel as the holidays get closer.

Acknowledge your emotions

It can feel overwhelming to process your emotions when you have so much going on.

But, avoiding your emotions or withholding them could end up leading to worse problems down the line and disrupt your balance. 

Remember, It’s normal for many emotions to arise during the holidays, especially for a first responder in treatment or recovery. 

Allowing yourself to be open to the people you trust can help alleviate the stress and turmoil that you may feel. Once you’re able to get a handle on emotions that are weighing you down, you can begin to make room for positive feelings instead of putting on a facade of happiness in front of loved ones. 

About First Responder Wellness

At First Responder Wellness, we guide those ready to take the path to recovery and well-being. We offer various programs within a community of others who know what it is like to be in the front lines. For more information on how we can assist you, call 888-443-4898.