The Counseling Team International Shares Tips for Self-Care
In review, 2016 was extremely demanding at all levels of public safety. First responders may look back and notice the emotional and physical toll they felt from:
- civil unrest
- officers lost in the line of duty, and,
- many unspeakable responses.
But ask a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or paramedic about job satisfaction and many will respond, “It’s the best job I could ask for.”
“We also love our jobs as mental health experts at The Counseling Team International. Nothing is more fulfilling than working with public safety, and doing our part to support those who serve us. At the same time, we have to take our own advice and practice self-care,” says director, Nancy Bohl-Penrod, Ph.D.
In a recent interview with the San Bernardino Sun, Dr. Bohl-Penrod, discussed the importance of self-care one year after her team’s deployment to the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack. “This work takes a toll, but we practice what we preach.”
Flerida Alarcon, chief of Victim’s Services for San Bernardino County and her team also jumped into action. Both groups took proactive steps to take care of themselves emotionally during their response and afterword. “When you’re working with victims of crimes, all types of crimes, you are working with people who are suffering every day,” Alarcon said. “It’s something we are aware of; we recognize we need to take care of ourselves in order to mediate the impact of listening to these types of incidents. But naturally, it is something that sits with you.”
“For professionals in this business, taking care of themselves not only physically but mentally is important,” added San Bernardino Police Chief, Jarrod Burguan. The practice of self-care is ongoing. Getting adequate sleep, eating right and seeking support among friends or by professionals are good examples of self-care.
No two people are alike, making self-care techniques different for everyone. “But keep this in mind,” encourages Dr. Bohl-Penrod, “We all need a sense of balance.”
It is not unusual for public safety employees to work excessive hours, not always by choice, but as part of the job. Understanding one’s own limitations is important to creating an off-duty balance of activities such as: time with family, friends, regular exercise and exploring new challenges such as rock climbing or another favorite sport.
Planning and enjoying time off can be critical to a long and healthy career as a first responder. It is likely one of most important self-care tips.
For more information on self-care or employee assistance services, call The Counseling Team at (909) 884-0133.