Finding the Time for Family
The holidays are a time of celebrations. Traditions surrounding the holiday season can bring people together and create new memories, all working to round out the year on a positive, festive note. However, for first responders, these annual celebrations can come packaged with many stresses and hurdles that affect their mental health.
Finding time for first responders to celebrate the holidays in their own way is necessary to prioritize a healthy balance between work and family.
However, there are ways that first responders can still tend to their duties to their communities while also celebrating this important holiday season surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones.
Tackling the Emergencies of the Holidays
While the holiday season is filled with positivity and gratitude, that doesn't mean emergencies are taking a vacation. The holiday season is still filled with dangers that first responders are tasked with tending to, between crime, natural disasters, and other critical situations. The holiday season is filled with just as many incidents as any other time of year.
However, instances of drunk driving can increase around the holiday season, with holiday festivities causing adults to drink more alcohol than would otherwise be typical. Not only can this add to the dangers associated with the season, but this increase can also have a number of effects on the personal lives of first responders.
First, such statistics and expectations can cause first responders to dread the holiday season itself, introducing a sour, pessimistic view of an otherwise joyous time of year, compromising the spirit of the holidays while at home. The increased dangers surrounding the holidays can also cause police officers to be out on longer patrols and taken away from families, and EMTs to be ever-ready for calls of car accidents or other injuries. Even the use of Christmas trees or holiday candles popular around the season can increase the chances of a disastrous house fire. Despite the positive connotations the holidays profess, for first responders, this time of year can be extremely stressful as the upswing in dangers and longer hours can continue to pull them out of the holiday spirit and away from their families.
Creating a Holiday Tradition
These hurdles can make taking time for one's family more difficult and can taint the otherwise celebrated holiday traditions. However, while first responders may have a unique perspective on the holiday season, there are still ways to celebrate this time of year.
Choosing Your Own Day to Celebrate
While many festivities may be tied to specific calendar dates during the holidays, such festivities aren't only possible at these times. For example, while celebrating Christmas on December 25th may be difficult if one is on duty, choosing to celebrate the holiday the weekend before can allow families to still put aside an entire day for the holiday spirit, guaranteeing time for presents, a family dinner, and any other traditions. Deciding on a special date ahead of time can allow for holiday-focused plans and traditions to come to form. Furthermore, it can help first responders keep a positive view of the holiday season by providing focused time for families rather than allowing work to feel like it has impeded one's personal life.
Likewise, if a first responder is expected to be on duty during the evening of a holiday, waking up early with the family to begin festivities early in the morning can create the time needed to still enjoy the holidays without feeling like they have to cram their personal lives for the sake of their professional duties.
Working With a Larger Family
First responders are often putting others' well-being before their own – a trait that is necessary for such a line of work. However, this sentiment also extends to one's family. Getting other families involved for larger holiday celebrations or inviting overextended families can provide a sense of respite as one's children continue to view the holidays as joyous and special until one's shift ends and one is able to rejoin the festivities themselves.
Turn Off the Phone
One's phone can be a constant reminder of the ubiquitous nature of disaster. However, it is important that first responders treat their time fairly. While one is on duty, keeping the phone ready and on one's person can be paramount. However, while an individual does have the opportunity to celebrate and spend time with their family, turning off the phone can maintain a necessary division between their personal and professional life in place and allow for a comfortable celebration among loved ones.
Keep Track of Your Own Health
Finding new ways to celebrate during the holiday season is essential. Not only is it important for one's family, but taking the time to celebrate and find positivity in the holidays is essential for the mental health of first responders. There is nothing selfish about taking time for one's family and detaching from the stresses of work and holidays. Finding this balance can promote a healthy relationship with the holiday season while allowing first responders to focus on the loving, supportive families back home without compromising their sense of self or duty.