First Responders are a unique group of people whose job is to protect, serve, and assist others. But when they need help themselves, they rarely reach out for it. Even more tragic is the fact that police suicides continually surpass on-duty deaths. A First Responder’s “Lifestyle and Environmental Factors” can make it hard to live a healthy lifestyle. The physical, emotional, and mental toll this kind of work takes on a person is simply staggering.
First responders need help, too. They need the same level of care and help they give out to the world. If you’re unfamiliar with the exact lifestyle and environmental factors that first responders experience, it may be difficult figuring out how to support our heroes physically and emotionally. So, let’s raise awareness and look at some ways that being a first responder can affect physical and emotional health.
Lifestyle and Environmental Factors of Being a First Responder
- Sleep and relaxation: Working shifts, long hours, and court dates often result in broken sleep—or none at all. Working 18+ hours is all too common. As a result of an unpredictable sleep schedule and a high-adrenaline atmosphere, there are also many who rely on sleep aids.
- Exercise: Sitting is 95% of the job as a police officer. Exercise is limited due to long shifts.
- Nutrition/Hydration: Fast food is a staple, and gas stations act as the refrigerator of many meals. Hydration may come in the form of coffee and energy drinks.
- Stress/Resilience: Chronic/acute stress is ongoing due to the nature of the job. Resilience is often weakened because most First Responders feel unable to ask for help or show signs of weakness.
- Relationships/Networks: Unfortunately, divorce is common among first responders.
- Trauma: Being a witness to suffering, as well as investigating violent crimes, is part of the job. Witnessing heartbreaking situations is a high contributor to police suicide, as these scenes replay in the mind with no optional off button.
- Microorganisms/Environmental Pollutants: Chronic exposure to chemicals, disease, toxins, decaying bodies, drugs, EMF signals, feces, etc. is also part of the job. There are certain smells that TV cop shows just can’t capture!
Understanding these factors is a great place to start if you want to support a first responder. And if you are a first responder, remember to ask for help and take care of yourself. We know it can be difficult to do, but it’s necessary… you are necessary! And not just for your service. You are necessary no matter what your job is, where your skill set lies, or what your interests are.
There are many holistic ways to operate under the difficult circumstances that first responders face. Contact our office if you or someone you know needs help taking a holistic approach to overall well-being. And from all of us at Health Connection, thank you to our first responders for your service and dedication.