Frontline workers face unique challenges in their daily lives. We disregard the toll our jobs have until our bucket is full and there is no one situation to explain why we feel so disconnected. One day we wake up and find that there’s no logical reason to explain why life feels increasingly difficult. Unable to find the words, we blame ourselves for not being able to cope while it appears others can. This leads us to self-isolate and withdraw further. The emotional toll of our careers affects those we love. It impacts our whole life.
How do you ask for help when you’re worried that your career (the thing that is providing you meaning, purpose, security, and livelihood) may be taken away? How do you ask for help when you may face a stigma for doing so?
Seeing the courageous folks speak at a First Responders Conference recently, I was in awe of the physical and emotional toll that the daily experience of of First Responders exacts. As a frontline worker, you provide optimal service for those living their worst days. Meanwhile, the requirement to control your own emotions and fears in life-threatening situations adds up and creates a stress unique to First Responders.
This stress shows up as being easily startled, feeling on edge, displaying angry outbursts, and trouble sleeping due to feeling like we need to be alert. Sometimes this stress can play out as guilt for being deployed and missing a loved one’s major life events.
Anxiousness can increase even in restful times while we mentally relive experiences that we’re trying to avoid. The very tools we used to make us sharp and mission-ready end up going too far and hindering our lives.
Does this sound like you? If so, know that one of the toughest fellas at that conference stood up and pointed out that if someone was attacked in the parking lot, that conference room would empty to protect that person. But now is the time to recognize and call out the mental attacks going on within. It’s time to use the same courage to approach someone and ask about what is really going on in their lives and even ask for help when you are in need.
Take a moment to remind yourself that it takes a special person, a special heart and tremendous courage to run into the fire, into the chaos or the fray while all others are running away. Remember that you are the community’s greatest asset and your mental and emotional well-being are paramount. Take a moment to affirm that the cost of service should not come at the expense of a life well-lived. Especially not at the expense of YOUR life well-lived.
A calmer, more joyful, fuller life is possible. I have been there. I know. I promise that you can smile again.
If you are looking for simple methods of relief that you can use daily (even at work) or if you are a family member of a veteran or a frontline worker (firefighter, police, nurse, doctor, EMS, dispatch, or corrections) please accept a 25% Frontline Credit towards any 1 hr or greater session that I offer. Mention frontline and I will send you the coupon code.
Thank you for being here.