First Responder Wellness for Coronavirus
First Responder wellness and the coronavirus: The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is causing most of us significant changes in our day-to-day life, stress and concern of contagion, particularly for first responders. First, it is important to try to follow CDC safety recommendations for law enforcement which includes:
· If possible, maintain a 6 feet distance between others
· Wash hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% of more alcohol
· Have EMS/EMT transport anyone suspected of COVID-19
· If exposed, wash hands, clean all equipment, duty belt, and squad with disinfecting wipes or spray.
· Minimum Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): NOISH-approved particulate respirator or face mask, disposable exam gloves, eye protection, and disposable gown or coveralls.
For first responder emotional wellness, be aware of your emotions and express them appropriately as research has shown avoiding or suppressing them leads to deeper negative emotions and long-term stress. Allow yourself and others to have emotions and try to address emotions with curiosity rather than negative judgment. Remember, all emotions will pass over time.
It is very normal to have some anxiety and fears during this epidemic. At the same time, it is important to ensure your anxieties and fears are rational and do not overwhelm you. Here are some suggestions to help cope with the additional stressors of the Coronavirus:
· Limit Sources of Information: Get your information about the coronavirus from one or two news platforms that you trust. Keep informed through these sites as to not overwhelm yourself with too much information.
· Limit Updates: Limit how often you check on updates about COVID-19. Remember, changes are occurring, but they are not imminent.
· Get Outside and walk: Getting at least 30 min of fresh air daily is a goal.
· Avoid Excess: Avoid too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol, screen time, etc. Try to find moderation. It is easy to binge watch TV, but find other activities to do around the house such as board games, spring cleaning, reorganizing, gardening, writing, art, music, etc.
· Socialize Virtually: Ensure you are contacting family and friends through different social media platforms including phones and facetime. Humans are social animals so keep connecting with others to avoid feeling lonely.
· Eat Healthy & Take Vitamins: Eat nutrient dense foods including vegetables and fruits. Try a multi-vitamin and Vitamin D as most Americans are low in Vitamin D.
· Exercise: Yes, you can exercise at home without gym equipment. Try pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, plank, lunges, dancing, etc. and try them with family, make it a game.
· Learn a new skill: If you are not as busy, start working on developing new skills such as learning a new language, a musical instrument, art, writing a book, cook a new recipe, etc.
· New Routine: You likely will have to develop a new routine for yourself and your loved ones. Ensure you are making your new routine structured and predictable as this will help with many of the uncertainties and stress. Routines are especially helpful for children.
· Sleep: Prioritize your sleep and when possible, stick to a consistent wake and sleep schedule. Avoid caffeine 8 hours prior to bed. Avoid electronics 1 hour before bed. Use your bed for sleep and sex, not watching TV.
· Have Fun: Watch comedies, go to www.sunnyskyz.com or www.goodnewsnetwork.com for positive and inspiring stories, reminisce about the old times with someone, look at old pictures, plan a vacation for the future, etc.
If you are having difficulties managing your stress or need to talk, feel free to reach out to first responders wellness center or Dr. Steiner at 630-909-9094 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our office is offering telehealth, which is virtual therapy at your own home using your phone or computer. We are also seeing people in the office as well. Stay Safe!
Dr. Steiner is the owner of First Responders Wellness Center and veteran Chicago Police Officer. All of the therapists at the Wellness Center are former first responders. Contact 1-630-909-9094