Keeping the family dynamic healthy starts with keeping yourself healthy.
Although it doesn’t apply to everyone, having a dysfunctional childhood is a common theme in those that choose a first responder career. Along with that background, comes behavior based on being taught “do not feel,” “do not speak,” and “do not ask questions.” This is reinforced in our careers as we begin compartmentalizing at work to survive, and the overflow bleeds into our personal lives whether we intend it to or not.
Remember the smoking vs. non-smoking analogy? Just because you are in the non-smoking section (off duty) doesn’t mean the smoke (work) can’t find you, especially when no separation or filter is keeping the smoke out. Be aware of when this happens and practice bringing yourself back to the current moment.
Practice giving yourself permission to feel and name your emotions. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now? What’s going on with me? What do I need right now?”
Be kind to yourself. Go get a massage, take a nap, sit quietly and meditate to move through these strong/heavy feelings, read positive literature, watch a comedy, or even a motivational YouTube video!
Remember, you become what you think about! Force yourself to do positive things and have positive conversations with yourself and others. More importantly, remember, your brain listens to your words and tries to make what it says true. If you don’t want it to be true, then don’t say it. Place positive affirmations to yourself where you will see them often.
Oftentimes, when we are feeling “off,” there is a simple solution. Practice HALT (am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?). Define it, then do something to be kind to yourself, as self-care is so important; it’s something we must prioritize in our lives to be well.