Keeping a Clear Mind as a Firefighter

00000AF01T003Firefighting is listed as the most stressful job of 2015, and managed to get third place in 2014, according to careercast.com. This is very easy to imagine, given the incredibly stressful situations firefighters put themselves in when they’re called to act in a moment’s notice, responsible for not only their own lives but the lives of others as well. Keeping a clear mind is not only important, but essential to doing the job as a firefighter. Here are a few tips that might help keep your head clear.

Don’t think about “What if’s”

When looking back on the decisions of the past, it’s easy to say that you should have done something different. It doesn’t matter if it was a decision you made or perhaps an event you may have changed by being present for it when you weren’t, dwelling on past mistakes takes you out of the moment. As a firefighter you don’t have the luxury to consider every possible scenario, but instead are relied upon to make your best decision on a moment-to-moment basis. Of course, it’s always beneficial to look at past mistakes and make better decisions moving forward, but it doesn’t benefit you or your job to dwell on those mistakes.

Stay Positive

Especially after a rigorous or bad day, it might seem impossible to be anything but dreary and beaten. However, by focusing on any one positive thing it can help a particularly difficult time become more manageable. Try and focus on one good thing you achieved recently, and use that positive impact you helped create push you forward through difficult times. If you still have trouble focusing on positive aspects, try talking with your peers. Sometimes it’s easy to become so trapped in your own thoughts you can’t see the silver linings, but talking with others can help you find those positive impacts you’ve made to keep moving forward.

Check your emotions at the door when it matters

At the end of the day, no matter what you’re feeling or going through, when the call comes for you to do your job you need to be able to give everything you’ve got. Being distracted may only seem like an inconvenience, but in a job like fire fighting in can mean the difference between life and death. It doesn’t matter how well trained or prepared you are, it doesn’t help if you’ve forgotten your helmet back at the station because you were too mentally distracted. Of course, it’s not always as easy as turning the background thoughts in your head off, so when you are able attempt to grapple with those thoughts so you can put them aside when the call comes.
It’s not at all uncommon for firefighters to suffer from difficulties like PTSD and depression, and not only should you take care of yourself but take care of your fellow firefighters as well. Never judge a peer who wants to talk about an event that’s affected them, because while fire fighters are certainly tough enough to handle one of the most stressful jobs, you’re still only human.