The holiday season is a wonderful time for all kinds of reasons – but for many people it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year.

This can be especially true for public safety professionals like law enforcement, firefighters, 911 dispatchers, and EMS workers. Part of this is due to the fact that so many of them have to work on the holidays, potentially missing out on quality time with family and friends.

But another, often bigger, reason for stress during this time is the fact that if they’re called into action on Christmas Eve, for example, the people they’re helping are likely to be having an even harder time than usual. Calling an ambulance for a family member is always scary; doing it on a day that’s supposed to be one of love and celebration is even scarier.

Because of this, it’s very important that public safety professionals find ways to de-stress this time of year. Here are a few helpful things you can do that will help you relax and refresh your mind and body.

Practice a random act of kindness

Public safety workers got into their jobs because they wanted to help people – that’s at the core of what they do. But helping people in life-threatening or crisis situations day in and day out can take its toll on the emotions, leaving you feeling depleted instead of fulfilled.

But there are small things you can do for people that will still make you feel great, without taking the emotional toll. Is an elderly person struggling to get their groceries in the car? Help them out, just because. See a mom or dad trying to get a stroller down stairs? Give them a hand – they’ll thank you, and the child will enjoy it too.

These little things will brighten up both your day and that of the person you help. And since these situations are hardly life and death, they’ll allow you to feel all the good that comes with being helpful and kind, without the stress that accompanies helping people in crisis situations.

Go out with your spouse, significant other, or close friend – and leave your phones, tablets, and other devices at home.

Nothing replenishes our emotional stores like spending quality time with the people we love. Yet even though this is something we all know, somehow it’s also an activity that we seem to have trouble making time for.

It’s vital, however, in order to maintain and strengthen our relationships with each other. So the next time you’re feeling really stressed, try arranging a coffee or dinner date with someone you care about, and take the time to really listen and talk to one another. Leaving your distractions at home will only make your get-together more enjoyable.

Spend some time in the kitchen.

Even if cooking is not something you usually enjoy, it can be fun to put make a recipe that’s easy, quick, or just different from what you generally eat. Sugar cookies are a breeze to whip up, and you can decorate them as simple or fancy as you like – just a swipe of icing will do, or you can go all out and paint snowman or Santa faces on them.

According to the Huffington Post, focusing on a recipe can distract you from outside stress, while ending up with a tangible, finished – and delicious! – product will give you a feeling of satisfaction.

Spend some time outside in the sunlight.

Sunlight is a proven mood-lifter, so take the time to get outside and soak some up this holiday season. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, without realizing it, and sunlight can help alleviate these symptoms.

But even if you’re not a SAD sufferer, being in the sunlight still has major benefits. It stimulates your brain to release serotonin, the hormone which helps you feel happy, calm, and focused. And if you can, go for a walk or a run outside on a sunny day – exercise boosts serotonin, too.

Public safety professionals have to prioritize taking care of themselves if they’re going to be able to take care of others. To learn more about stress and this industry, read our blog post on the types of stress that 911 dispatchers often suffer from.

If KOVA can help your public safety organization improve its functioning through workforce optimization software, situation management software, or one of our other offerings, please contact us!

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