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5 ways to leave your firefighter stress at the door

Leaving your stress at work is a challenge for everyone; for firefighters, it’s even more important

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Many firefighters deal with issues of chronic stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

The following is paid content sponsored by California Casualty

By FireRescue1 BrandFocus

Stress can be dangerous. It’s not good for your mind or your body, and as a firefighter you need both to be sound to do your job effectively.

It’s no secret that many firefighters deal with issues of chronic stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Finding ways to deal with that stress can mean the difference between being healthy—and enjoying a healthy home life—and not.

On the other hand, studies have shown that spending time with family and maintaining those familial relationships results in less overall stress and can promote good health.

Of course, being able to unplug after a long shift and connect with family can be difficult. It’s normal to be exhausted, worn out, and emotionally drained. Because of that, it can be hard to shift gears and connect with those people who are important to you.

With that in mind, we asked some of our FireRescue1 readers to tell us how they unwind after a long day. Here are a few suggestions for how you can switch gears for a healthier self and home life.

1. Plan a Family Night

As Austin and Allena Robertson suggested, plan a family night. Having plans in advance is a great way to give yourself something to look forward to and provide much needed stress relief. A family night (or day, depending) can consist of anything: going to a movie, the park, a ball game. What matters is that you’re planning something you’re excited about and doing it with the people you love.

2. Eat a meal together

As Carl Painter noted, [he and his family] always try to eat at least one meal each day together. Making time to eat meals with your family is critical. Numerous studies have shown that it makes a huge difference on children’s development, but it also has a positive effect on the parents as well. Having a time that’s just for you and your family helps maintain those bonds that keep you going strong.

3. Socialize outside of the station

Tony Pearce suggests “play[ing] pool, go[ing] out to eat, spend[ing] time out by the lake, or just hang[ing] with friends.” He’s right. Taking some time to unwind outside of work but before returning home can also be beneficial. The key here is to remove yourself from the work (and stress) environment though, so hanging around the station doesn’t count. What you do want is to time with people who give you a sense of belonging and who you have fun with. You don’t need to spend a long time socializing, either – a little positive interaction goes a long way.

4. Read a book

Sharon Galarneau suggests a double-duty solution. “Read [your kids] a book. That way, you’re resting [and spending time with family] at the same time.” Low-key activities like this are perfect for shedding stress while at the same time spending quality time with loved ones.

5. Relax on the couch with you partner

Sometimes simple is best. Randy Philbrick suggests “cuddl[ing] up with the wife and kids and watch[ing] a little TV.” Kicking back and watching a little TV was one of the more popular ways that firefighters unwind.

Of course, there’s no magic bullet that will wash all the stress of the day away instantly, but cultivating healthy habits will make a difference—to you and your loved ones. You can read more suggestions from FireRescue1 readers or suggest your own in the comments below.