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Take Care of Yourself

While within the last few years, the emphasis on self-care has grown, most emergency managers have paid little attention to this. I am not sure if it is the nature of the work and the idea that we are saving lives, therefore, one cannot slow down. Another reason is that due to the relatively new emphasis on the EM role, there is a fear that the employer might look down on an emergency manager taking time for themselves, resulting in the loss of their job. Regardless, today’s EM needs to take better care of themselves.

You’re not going to be an effective emergency manager if you constantly feel like crap. Too many candles burning at both ends will result in burn out. Long work days and work weeks and other demands can take their toll, and if you add in the poor diet of many first responders, a lack of sleep, you have a recipe for some serious self-destruction. This lifestyle is a lot easier when you’re young, but if you don’t fix it, you will reach a point when you are no longer able to keep up with the strain and it will destroy you and your work. To recharge and reestablish your center, I would suggest implementing a few things into your daily routine including:

  1. Get up a little early and do something creative. Read a pleasure book or drink a cup of coffee on the porch.

  2. Stay off your phone and computer when you first wake up. Once you “plug in” for the day, you will get sucked into your work. Be deliberate about staying off your device for a little while.

  3. Get a hobby. I am not talking about reading manuals about new emergency gear; Do something completely unrelated to your job.

  4. Manage your use of devices. I know that you need to be available, but many calls and emails can wait till your work hours.

  5. Clean up your diet. Stabilizing your work schedule will help fix your poor meal and snack choices. You don’t need to roll through McDonalds every day.

  6. Set boundaries. Our work is not a 9-5 gig, but it should not be a 24 hour a day one. Do your work, but make sure it is clear to everyone that you have a life as well.

It’s time for you to focus on your own health. I honestly believe that you cannot hope to reach the level required without looking out for yourself first. It’s like the old oxygen mask speech recited on every flight you have ever been on. You need to put your oxygen mask on first, so you can really help others. If you are burnt out, you are not much use.

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