Mental Health Information
There is a lot of information available to us regarding mental health. LMK has done some homework for you by finding information that is applicable to our work and sourced from trusted mental health experts.
The links below will provide you with information regarding mental health concerns that are relevant to emergency service workers. Each section provides a short description of the concern and a link to further information and resources provided by beyondblue.
S: Social connections (to keep the brain healthy and happy and assist with everything below)
E: Exercise (to improve blood flow around the body and brain and the transport of everything required to maintain healthy cells)
E: Education (ongoing learning)
D: Diet (the right food for the body and brain)
S: Sleep (essential for repair and growth of body and brain and to make sense of and cope with experiences).
Within each letter there is a lot of science and tips for being resilient.
The stop-go nature of firefighting and the impact of night shifts can make it difficult to achieve quality sleep every night. Missing just two hours of quality sleep per night has been linked to reduced alertness/awareness, slower reaction times and poor decision making. Therefore the quality of our sleep can play a huge role in how we look after ourselves, our workmates and the community. How’s this for an interesting stat? 17 hours of being awake equates to blood alcohol content 0.05. This alone should help us see a long drive home after two busy night shifts as no small thing.
Here are some helpful guidelines and serving sizes on how to eat healthy, brought to you by the National Health and Medical Research Council and https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/.
There is a lot of science to back up the benefits of regular exercise in combating depression, anxiety and many other mental health concerns. Exercise releases many of the body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals which…well, make us feel good. Regular exercise also aids in improving quality of sleep and in mood stabilisation. You don’t need to be an elite athlete to experience the benefits of regular exercise. In fact, half an hour of moderate exercise a day (a brisk walk is more than enough) will go a long way towards improving mental and physical health. Do it with a mate, with your dog or in a group and the benefits will snowball thanks to maintaining social connections. Friends can also motivate you when you are feeling reluctant!
At the most basic level mindfulness allows you to be completely aware of the present moment. There are a number of techniques and many apps available to help you develop mindfulness but to begin with all you really need to do is TAKE 5. Take five minutes out of your day to sit somewhere comfortably and quietly and just observe…observe your breathing, the sensations on your skin, the sounds surrounding you, anything really… as long as it is occurring in the present moment. Make no judgment or reaction to what you feel or observe, and if your mind wanders to the past or the future, observe that too for as you develop the skill of mindfulness it is possible to notice a significant drop in the levels of “chatter” that seem to form a constant narrative in our minds.