Stress Management Tips for Paramedics

January 21st, 2015 by CTSCCC

If you’re considering becoming a paramedic, know that once you’ve graduated, you’ll be a front-line first responder who people will call upon during times of crisis. Calm and cool, you’ll be a trusted and valued member of your community. And with this responsibility will come great satisfaction as you help save lives and keep people safe. Your paramedic training will provide you with the necessary skills to respond in an emergency, but you’ll also need ways to keep yourself healthy and strong while burning off stress.  After they graduate from paramedic college and enter the workforce, paramedics use tips like these to maintain that all important work-life balance:

Exercise Regularly

Being a paramedic can often be physically demanding. You may have to carry equipment up several flights of stairs to reach a patient in need – or lift someone onto a stretcher.  Aside from the obvious benefits of keeping in shape in case of such a scenario, regular exercise is also a way to relieve excess stress.  The endorphins released in the brain while working out have been known to make you feel more relaxed while improving your cardio-vascular circulation. EMTs in top condition typically integrate regular exercise into their routines, either by joining a gym or working out at home.

Accept Loss

Just like a community services worker can’t rehabilitate everyone they work with, a paramedic must learn to accept that not every individual they encounter on the job can be saved.  In some cases, patients will be beyond helping, despite your very best efforts – and it is natural to feel a sense of shock the first few times this happens.  But preparing yourself for this fact doesn’t mean you lose your compassion or empathy for those in need.  In fact, coming to terms with the realities of the profession will only make you a better, stronger EMT – something many paramedics take solace in knowing.

Holding on to loss or carrying an unreasonable burden of responsibility is not what this important job is about. Talking with colleagues or even a counsellor is a great way for paramedics to re-focus on the positive contribution they make to society.

Sleep Well

Any seasoned EMT will tell you to make friends with coffee while on the job, but not to abuse it.  Overusing stimulants tends to compound stress and elevate anxiety levels. Because of the detail-oriented nature of the job, plus the need to make swift and strategic decisions, paramedics shouldn’t rely on caffeine to stay alert. Over-caffeinating interferes with fine motor skills and logical reasoning – not to mention it will rob paramedics of much-need sleep and restoration. For EMTs, part of maintaining work-life balance is knowing how to unwind and rest deeply, arriving fresh and alert for the new day’s challenges.

What do you look forward to most about becoming a paramedic?