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First responders struggle more during the holidays

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for many, but it can also be a particularly challenging time for first responders. The unique challenges they face during this time can take a toll on their well-being and ability to perform their vital roles in our communities. I am a part of this community and with each call that brings us closer to the Christmas holiday, my stomach sinks and my heart grows heavier and heavier.

From the increased stress first responders face to the emotional toll of missing out on their own celebrations, it’s important to recognize and support these everyday heroes during the holidays. Never under-estimate the power of community support and prayer on behalf of first responders during the holiday season.

If you are a first responder, you know the job is always demanding, but during the holidays, the stress can be even more intense. You may find yourself working longer hours, responding to more emergencies, and dealing with heightened emotions in the community.

It's important to prioritize self-care during this time. Make sure you are getting enough rest and taking breaks when necessary. Remember that you are only human and it's okay to ask for help when you need it.

Don't forget that the holidays can also be a time of joy and celebration. Take a moment to find gratitude in the work that you do and the impact you have on your community.

Despite the demanding nature of the job, you continue to show up every day and make a difference in people's lives. Your dedication to the community is inspiring and appreciated.

As a first responder, the holidays can take a significant emotional toll on you. Despite being surrounded by others, you may still feel a sense of isolation and loneliness, especially if you are away from your family during this festive season. Because of your job, you may also have to sacrifice your own celebrations and miss out on important events with your loved ones. It can be difficult to continuously choose duty over tradition, year after year.

Additionally, the traumatic experiences you face while on the job can compound during the holiday season, making it hard to find joy and peace in a time that is supposed to be merry and bright. I particularly get extremely emotional when I hear a call for a house fire this time of year. It is not difficult to imagine gifts under a tree going up in flames just days before eager and anxious children thought they would be opening them.

I also struggle with accidents that result in death. I know this is weird to say out loud, but while they trouble me all throughout the year, fatalities seem to carry more weight right before the holidays because I imagine all the plans that family had that are now tragically changed (forever).

Remember that it is okay to feel overwhelmed or emotional during this time. It is important to take care of yourself and seek support from loved ones or professional resources when needed.

During the holidays, finding a balance between work and family can be particularly challenging for first responders. The demanding nature of the job often means long and irregular hours, leaving little time for other commitments. I have found that this can lead to feelings of guilt for not being able to spend as much time with loved ones when the demand is so much greater on the holidays.

It's important to remember that your work is essential and that your family understands and appreciates the sacrifices you make. Try to remember that you are out there creating an environment where other families can have those moments.

Some tips for managing your time include prioritizing tasks and making a schedule that includes time for both work and family. It's also important to communicate with your loved ones about your schedule and find ways to stay connected even when you're apart. Steal time if you have to by extending a bedtime for 30 minutes so you can wrestle on the floor or play a board game.

Having a support system is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance. This can include colleagues, friends, and family who understand the unique challenges you face as a first responder. Don't be afraid to ask for help or seek out resources when needed. I never stop being amazed at the family we have on Linkedin as responders. It is unlike that of other social media where first responders and those connected to us tend to post the heart-wrenching stories and dismal or sad accounts of family and holiday tragedy.

I know that I rely on my connections on Linkedin quite a bit and appreciate every one of those contacts that really communicate especially this time of year.

 Remember, finding a balance between work and family takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and seek out the support you need to maintain a healthy and fulfilling life both on and off the job.

As a first responder, the holiday season can be particularly challenging. However, it's important to remember that there can be joy even amidst the difficulties.

One key factor that can help first responders find joy is gratitude. Focusing on the things in life that you are grateful for can help shift your perspective and boost your positive emotions. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or simply taking a few moments each day to reflect on what you are thankful for. At our house, my wife created a large posterboard tree with hundreds of blank leaves on which we can write things we are grateful for. This sounds juvenile, but as the tree fills, it is quite inspirational and hard to complain about you life when the branches are dripping with the blessings you have; you might be surprised at how many leaves you actually have.

There is a quality most of us possess and that is resilience. It can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Despite the challenges we face on a regular basis, we are able to bounce back and maintain that dedication needed to serve the community. Cultivating resilience can involve practices such as developing a growth mindset, seeking out support from others, and staying adaptable in the face of change. The bad side to this resilience is actually that fake resilience or the “tough guy act” we sometimes rely on. Lean on your actual resilience but when it seems like too much, it probably is and it is time to go talk to someone.

Finally, self-care is crucial for finding joy and maintaining well-being during the holidays. This can involve a range of activities such as exercise, meditation, spending time with loved ones, or simply taking a break from work to do something enjoyable. Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish – it's necessary in order to be the best version of yourself and serve others well.

Overall, while the holiday season can be filled with unique challenges for first responders, it's important to remember that joy is still possible. By cultivating gratitude, resilience, and self-care, you can find ways to maintain your well-being and continue to serve your community with dedication and compassion.


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