A DISCUSSION ON MENTAL HEALTH, MOTIVATION AND DISCIPLINE

How is everybody doing out there? It has certainly been a trying time for many families, including those of first responders. Our ability as a first responder to cope with everything that has taken place, as it continues to unfold both on and off the job, can be a challenging one.

The one thing we are seeing right now with many people is better understanding ongoing concerns and adapting to our current challenges during this time. Firehouse Training has worked tirelessly, to review our ability to adapt, pivot and remain positive during this uncertain time. I was able to reach out to current and past students through various social media and online platforms. This provided a better understanding of how people are doing both mentally and physically and has been a very positive experience for me. Some of the things that I feel this pandemic has forced, is our ability to slow life down and live in the moment, reset and simplify our day to day activities to maximize our time.

Many people simply live each day waiting for life to happen to them. The contact I have made with many in my student circle is the complete opposite; rather making things happen for themselves and allowing the world to react. It is with this mindset and minimal distractions, (not counting hours of watching Tiger King of course ) that many of us can plan our days, redefine our goals and continue to work towards them in a much more disciplined manner.

Whether it is practicing for an anticipated interview with a Fire Service, hitting the books, preparing for a future recruitment aptitude test, taking some extra online courses to better position yourself for succession planning within your own fire department, while working into a management role, now is the time to take advantage. It’s important now to take that extra time and effort to pursue and complete those career goals!

There will always be two ways to handle a situation in these unprecedented times we are currently in. Either accept the current situation and wait for things to be over…or take action and let this current pandemic define your newfound motivation to accomplish your dreams. There is no better time than now.

For the many that are not working at the moment or have received some time off…wake up at your usual time in the morning, to keep a routine. Make your bed. It’s a small goal you can keep and it will be one of the first of many successes you have that day. Keep that television off and turn on the radio, or a motivational podcast. Avoid binge-worthy distractions. Listening to a constant positive message reaches to you on a subconscious level. Eat a healthy breakfast, take the time to enjoy your coffee, go for a morning run or workout, take your vitamins, read a book, enjoy the outdoors, focus and plan a goal-oriented task and complete it such as studying some fire service content, or taking an online course. Strive to find that feeling of accomplishment each and every day to live with a purpose, to keep you motivated when everything else seems to be crumbling around you, or at least how the media certainly makes it seem like.

Minimize your distractions, turn your motivational volume up to eleven and get stuff done! There is no better and convenient time. We must never mistake someone else’s journey for your own…take the journey yourself and live it. Make mistakes, be accountable for those mistakes, enjoy the success and enjoy the failures too…as we learn from every experience. After a very successful Firehouse Training online zoom session and Multiple Calls Podcast recording last week, I have compiled a small list of some of the common things myself, and some of my students have been doing to stay motivated, and keep engaged to strengthen their mental health, during the long days of self-isolation:

• Eat well
• Daily workouts, even if they are of short duration
• Read a book
• Go for a walk
• Take some online training
• Read and review your IFSTA Essentials of Firefighting Textbook
• Get plenty of sleep
• Minimize Netflix and social media (except for Tiger King!)
• Reach out to loved ones and socially connect by phone or online video chats
• Continuous learning including firefighting videos, training seminars, documentaries and podcasts

I hope everybody can continue to take some small steps each day to ensure you keep your mental and physical health in check, stay motivated, and continue to progress in whichever career direction you are headed. The strongest people are the ones who fight battles we know nothing about. Keep crushing those goals, because once this pandemic is over…you may just think this was a blessing.

Adam McFadden is a professional firefighter for one of the largest fire departments in Canada. He is the owner of Firehouse Training and is responsible for program development, lead instruction and content management for their database of various fire service online training programs.

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