Don't hoard the trauma

You don’t have to hoard the trauma – throw it out.

Well, maybe it’s not as easy as throwing it out… but we do have the ability to fight trauma head-on as it happens versus storing it away to grow into a bigger problem over time.

Listen to this new way to look at trauma from Dr. Stephen Odom Ph.D., MFT, First Responder Wellness Founder // Chief Clinical Officer.


Did you hear that?  When anything intense happens, you have about thirty days to work it through. 

If you work it through, it’s then an acute stress incident that then goes away. 

If you don’t work it through… and it’s now been three or four months, that’s when the signs and symptoms of PTSD start to show up. 

So the sooner we ask for help and begin to process things, the better the results will be.

So what exactly are the best self-care strategies that can be used to cope after a bad call or shift?

Most of us already know a list of these, because it’s things we should be doing to take care of ourselves daily in general… but that doesn’t mean we take action, especially after we’ve just experienced something significant.  

Here are a few proven actions to not only help you cope at the moment but will help prevent the long-term effects of the daily calls, shifts, and situations first responders face.

HINT: These work well for anyone, anytime, for any reason so… make sure they’re in your Fire Wife Self-Care toolbox too!

1. Exercise: IYKYK right? The gym is a great place to give not only your physical well-being a boost – but your mental well-being too! Regular exercise can be a great way to reduce stress and improve mental health. Encourage your husband to find an exercise routine that he enjoys, whether it be running, weightlifting, yoga, or another activity.

2. Mindfulness meditation: If this sounds too “woo-woo” for you, we highly suggest being open – we love it around here and many first responders have found so much relief with this. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. There are countless apps and resources available to teach anyone mindfulness meditation.

3. Hobbies and activities: Encourage your husband to engage in a hobby or activity that he enjoys. Engaging in pleasurable activities can help reduce stress and improve mood, and that sister works in your favor.

4. Spend time in nature: Nature lovers know this trick. Spending time in nature can promote relaxation. Go for a run, walk, or hike in a nearby park or nature preserve. Get out on the water. Set out on the patio and just…be. Rest. Reset.

5. Breathing, intentionally: Stop and breathe! (Check yourself…. when is the last time you took a deep breath?)  Deep breathing exercises can be a helpful tool for managing anxiety and stress. Learn deep breathing exercises, such as the 4-7-8 technique, which can significantly reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed or anxious.

What if none of this helps?

The best option for when something intense happens is to do the work but there are things that happen that are just too big for us to do on our own. If you find you can’t do this on your own – it’s time to seek help. There are culturally competent professionals who specialize in first responders available to help you now.

Don’t postpone facing these things thinking you can just deal with the consequences later, you don’t want to find yourself at the end of your career and it all comes crashing down at once.

Secondary trauma is also a very real thing. Helping your first responder cope after a bad call or shift can be a challenging and emotional experience for a fire wife… Be intentional about taking care of yourself too.

By providing support that works for your marriage, encouraging self-care, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can help your firefighter find the tools he needs to manage his emotions and find healing.

Learn more about facing trauma head-on, or reach out for help NOW here:

First to Respond, Last to Seek Help

Free Webinar: How to recognize, address and navigate the struggles that result from years of emotions and on the job trauma.

Your Fire Life is different.
So your communication needs to be too.

Learn how to communicate well through the Stress and Traumas (Big T and Little t)

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.

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