Three reasons why first responders in addiction recovery should add daily affirmations to their routine

Three reasons why first responders in addiction recovery should add daily affirmations to their routine

Daily affirmations are one of the easiest and most accessible wellness routines first responders can add to their self-care regimens while in addiction recovery. 

First responders are constantly on the go, working 10 to 16 hours per day in high-stress environments – they need self-care routines that they can access everywhere they go. 

Recovering from addiction and transitioning back to a busy lifestyle is one of the most difficult experiences to endure. Therefore, we need to equip first responders with the necessary tools to save them from relapsing and spiraling down a dark path.

Here are some daily affirmations you can add to your daily routine: 

  • I am strong, I am powerful
  • Recovery is my priority 
  • My life matters, I am loved
  • I can ask for help
  • I am worthy of my goals
  • It’s okay to take a break
  • I will succeed

Now, if you haven’t been saying affirmations out loud, in your head, writing them down, or displaying them in your home – you really should be, and here’s why. 

Boosts self-confidence

We all need a self-confidence boost, but it can really help a first responder in addiction recovery believe in themselves to continue on their journey towards wellness. 

Anytime you begin to think negatively, say an affirmation out loud; it’ll completely shift your perspective and build a foundation of higher self-worth. Sometimes when we begin using affirmations, we don’t really believe it. But what is amazing is that the more we say these affirmations, the more we start to not only believe them but become them as well.

Calms nerves and anxiety

Whenever you’re feeling anxious, whether at home, work, or out in public – affirmations can help ground you, bringing you back to the present. 

Sometimes we work ourselves up, stressing out over things that haven’t happened yet, causing anxiousness and anxiety – often felt by first responders worrying about relapse. 

The moment you begin to feel anxiousness or anxiety, say an affirmation for about three minutes and notice how it takes your mind off of your worries. 

Promotes grounding

First responders have a lot to worry about, including saving and protecting lives, caring for their families, and then throwing in treatment for addiction and recovery – it’s a lot to handle. 

A mistake many of us make is living in the future, worrying about what could happen, and not living in the now. Daily affirmations are a great way to promote grounding, helping us see all that we have in front of us and all that we’re thankful for.

Sure, times are tough, but there are still things that we’re grateful for. Affirmations can bring you clarity and help you understand why it’s important to stay on the journey towards wellness. 

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

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

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. 

Police officers can help prevent trauma from becoming PTSI with these tips

Police officers can help prevent trauma from becoming PTSI with these tips

Did you know 30 percent of first responders develop mental health conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), which is 10 percent higher than the general population?

More specifically, in May of 2018, the Department of Justice reported that an estimated 15 percent of police officers were suffering from PTSI. 

Responding to critical incidents and disasters, especially during a time of civil unrest and amidst a pandemic, is placing our police officers at the forefront of depression, PTSI, substance abuse, and suicide ideation more than ever before. 

“In a study, about three-fourths of surveyed officers reported having experienced a traumatic event, but less than half of them told their agency about it. Additionally, about half of the officers reported personally knowing one or more law enforcement officers who changed after experiencing a traumatic event, and about half reported knowing an officer in their agency or another agency who had committed suicide.”

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Still, in 2021 first responders face the stigma of reporting traumatic incidents and seeking assistance for mental health conditions. 

In the field of public safety, it’s not “if” you come across a traumatic critical incident but a matter of “when.” 

Here are a handful of tips that may help to prevent trauma from becoming PTSI. 

Preventing trauma from becoming PTSI

As we mentioned above, a person who takes on a lifelong career as a police officer will likely endure some level of trauma when responding to a critical incident during their time of service. 

While we cannot necessarily prevent trauma from occurring, we can work together to prevent trauma from becoming PTSI; now and in the future. 

Here are six proactive tactics that can help ease the trauma and prevent it from becoming PTSI:

  • Disclose the trauma to a loved one or colleague
  • Don’t isolate yourself; continue contact with family and friends
  • Practice grounding yourself via meditation
  • Always aim to identify as a survivor, not a victim 
  • Find ways to help others in their healing process, like colleagues 
  • Practice mantras, such as “I will get better” and “I am powerful.” 

It’s important that starting now, we allow ourselves to step into uncomfortable territory and normalize the expression of our mental wellness to those around us. 

Remember, as a first responder, you have an entire community of people who love and support you through your entire journey towards wellness. We believe in you and hope these tips come in handy for you or a friend. 

About First Responder Wellness

At First Responder Wellness, we guide those ready to take the path to recovery and wellbeing. 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. 

Four tips to help you adjust to a sober lifestyle

Four tips to help you adjust to a sober lifestyle

Adjusting to a clean and sober lifestyle after completing a treatment program for substance abuse is a challenge, especially for first responders.  

In addition to giving up certain aspects of a previous lifestyle, recovery also affords one the opportunity to explore new interests and make connections with people who support and encourage sobriety. 

“Research shows most relapses occur within the first six months of treatment, but for anyone struggling with addiction, there’s a possibility of relapse whether you’re six months or six years sober. Because of this, it’s important to continue your positive development after rehab.”

WebMD Connect to Care

It’s important to recognize that even after substance abuse treatment it’s imperative that one continues implementing tactics and strategies to help maintain a sober lifestyle. 

Entering into recovery after treatment without a plan, however, can leave a person feeling lonely and isolated, which may put them at risk of a relapse. But, utilizing all resources and remaining open to personal growth can help you establish a sober lifestyle.

The following healthy coping skills will help you on your journey towards continued wellness. 

Starting at Home

One of the most powerful changes one can make after completing treatment for addiction is to make modifications in the home that support mental wellness and sobriety.  

If you live with someone, it can be helpful to talk to them about the changes you would like to make to your living environment in advance, so they can prepare before you get back home. 

Starting by eliminating all drugs and alcohol out of the house is most important. If you ever developed a habit of hiding substances in your home, disclose hiding places before finishing treatment and ask them to do a clean sweep of the entire house.  

Additionally, it can be helpful to maintain a clean and uncluttered living environment to promote a calming atmosphere and prevent anxiety.

One could also choose to dedicate a space in the home to practice mindfulness. You can use this space to read, meditate, practice yoga, or simply enjoy a morning cup of tea. Dedicating a place in your home to mental wellness, free of distractions, can be a powerful tool in addiction recovery.

Building a Safety Net

An imperative part of recovery is building and maintaining a network of people that support you. This network should also hold you accountable for continuing recovery work even when things seem to be going well, to help you prepare for any unexpected triggers that can threaten your sobriety.  

This safety net of individuals should include professionals like psychologists, addiction counselors, family therapists, as well as loved ones that support your new sober lifestyle. 

Building a healthy network of support also means cutting ties with people that inhibit your ability to maintain mental wellness or encourage you to pick up substances. This might mean losing touch with people you care about, but prioritizing your sobriety sometimes means knowing when to walk away. Remember your goal. 

Setting Goals

One of the greatest parts of recovery is discovering what you’re capable of without the hindrance of substance abuse. 

Now is the time to set personal and professional goals, along with a strategic plan on how to achieve them. However, this doesn’t mean that you should overwhelm yourself with work or become extremely achievement-oriented early in recovery, as this behavior tends to lead to excess stress, which may threaten your sobriety.  

It’s important to work with a therapist or a wellness coach to set realistic goals for yourself, whether they be job-related, educational, or creative. Having something to work towards and look forward to can be a powerful motivator for staying sober in early recovery.

Exploring New Interests

Newly sober individuals tend to feel as if they have a lot of time on their hands now that they aren’t abusing substances.

Sobriety can also be an eye-opening experience that exposes how much time you previously wasted on substance abuse. With newfound free time, now is the moment to explore different activities and pursuits; you may find yourself motivated to start exercising more often or discovering creative talents. 

Finding time for new activities adds the benefit of meeting other people interested in the same hobbies, professions, and those who enjoy themselves without substances. 

Meeting new friends through fellowship support groups and treatment alumni programs are a great place to start…and make exploring new interests a great opportunity to make new friends and strengthen your safety net. 

About First Responder Wellness

At First Responder Wellness, we guide those ready to take the path to recovery and wellbeing. 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. 

If I’ve been sober for years, why do I still think about using substances?

If I’ve been sober for years, why do I still think about using substances?

Many first responders and even civilians successfully living in recovery still think about substance use from time to time. 

At some point in your journey through recovery and sobriety, you may have asked yourself, “If I’ve been sober for years, why do I still think about using substances?”

Do not worry. You’re not alone. This is a thought that most first responders in recovery experience on occasion. 

The high-stress environment and pressures of a first responder can make sobriety even more difficult than that of civilians. As you know, first responders are subject to experience more trauma than many other professions, and tough shifts or tragic experiences can easily weigh a person down. 

Maintaining sobriety can be challenging for those who are used to selflessly putting the lives and safety of others first. But, the KEY is to understand why we still think about using and how to handle the thoughts when they occur.

Don’t give thoughts power

You go through a string of six great months in recovery, you’re on track and thriving…then suddenly one day, unexpectedly, you think or even daydream about substances. Remember, these are just thoughts, do not give them power.

Unsettling thoughts of relapse often disrupt any sense of contentment built up over long bouts of sobriety. Everyone in recovery is familiar with thoughts of relapse, and thinking of it doesn’t make a person any more or less principled in their pursuit of recovery; it makes them human.

Another key distinction here lies in the understanding that thoughts of relapse do not determine relapse. If a person begins going down a path of negative thinking, there’s still time to consider the control held over their thoughts. Taking a moment to understand that thoughts of relapse are disconnected from actions can provide us with a sense of power.

Although it may be difficult to control the thoughts crossing our minds at all times, our power comes from choosing not to listen to the negative thoughts.

Risk and reward response

Often, the mind treats alcohol and substance use as a reward, especially for addicts. Chemically, the brain floods with neurotransmitters, hijacking the regulation of risk and reward responses, which allows all other positive experiences to seem inadequate in comparison to using.

On a neurological level, addicted individuals subconsciously count the seconds until the next opportunity to experience that reward. This is the reason long bouts of sobriety can flip in an instant, with the mind reverting to cravings of the past when it seeks a reward.

Reestablishing the reward system can take many years; don’t worry. In the meantime, the brain consistently desires to realize the incentive of using; refusing this drive can be difficult, as the desire originates from a chemical dependency in the brain. Ignoring these urges is less a matter of willpower and more about managing the craving to use when it arises.

Handling thoughts of relapse

If thoughts of relapse emerge, they usually surface alongside unhealthy thought patterns, many of which may seem familiar from the helm of addiction. Commonly referred to as “stinking thinking” by those who have graduated from treatment programs, the re-emergence of self-destructive thoughts signals the underlying desire to relapse. Once a person can recognize the signs of relapse, what does a person do with these corrosive thoughts?

If kept inside, they will eat away at the individual in recovery, pushing them closer to relapse. Speaking with a sponsor, trained counselors, or loved ones goes a long way in relieving the pressure created by these thoughts. If that is not an option, writing these thoughts and feelings down may alleviate some emotional and psychological burdens.

Mindful meditation is another healthy coping mechanism for thoughts of relapse, as it assists in identifying negative thought patterns and redirects the mind to think positively.

Thoughts of relapse are difficult to manage, but they point to underlying issues that could go unnoticed. As tough as they can feel, these thoughts are extensions of yourself; they require love and attention. Listening to them and learning from them is another step on the road to recovery.

About First Responder Wellness

At First Responder Wellness, we guide those ready to take the path to recovery and wellbeing. 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. 

Caring for plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress

Caring for plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress


Did you know that caring for houseplants has the power to reduce physiological and psychological stress?

This may be good news for all plant enthusiasts out there or encouragement to a first responder looking to beautify their home or garden while enhancing mental and emotional health. 

“Researchers conducted a study on “how the interaction with indoor plants may reduce stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in adults. The research-study results concluded that active interaction with indoor plants can reduce both physiological and psychological stress; this is accomplished through suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity, diastolic blood pressure, and promotion of comfortable, natural feelings.”

Affinity Health

When a plant owner tends to their houseplant(s), all of their attention is focused on the plant and only the plant. 

Caring for a living being is second nature for first responders, so taking the time to water, trim, and rotate plants can be a very therapeutic process that relaxes your senses while your sole focus is on the plant. 

While there are so many science-backed benefits of houseplants, the amount of mental wellness opportunity they provide to the lives of humans is unparalleled. 

Here are the top five benefits plants have on mental health:

  • Plants can reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and anxiousness
  • Houseplants can elevate productivity and boost creativity
  • Improve the quality of indoor air
  • Sharpen concentration and memory 

As many of you already understand, oftentimes, a reduced level of serotonin is linked to depression, which is why surrounding yourself with a few indoor plants is a solid test to undertake as plants can help trigger the same chemical response in our brain which releases serotonin. 

“A 2007 study found a bacterium in plant soil called Mycobacterium vaccae that triggers the release of serotonin, which lifts mood and reduces anxiety. Therefore, interaction with indoor or outdoor plants can alleviate symptoms of depression.”

Affinity Health

Plants provide a sense of calming energy, which can translate to a stronger sense of wellbeing. With all the data and evidence supporting houseplant’s impact on mental health, we recommend you try this tactic and see if it works for you. 

At First Responder Wellness, we guide those ready to take the path to recovery and wellbeing. 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.