Studying for your firefighter promotional exam can be a lot on top of an already busy schedule, because if you are promoting in the fire service, you are working full time. It is important as you begin your firefighter promotional exam prep to take care of yourself along the way.
What is Self-Care
Self care is defined as, “taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health.” Self care is not just going to the coffee shop and grabbing a coffee to go, it is so much more than that. It is being intentional with your time and using it to do things to help better yourself so you can show up as your best self.
Importance of Self Care
With the addition of studying for your firefighter promotional exam you will likely find yourself dealing with additional stress. If you are just working, tending to your relationships, and studying, you will get burnt out before the time comes to even take your exam. Taking the time to take care of yourself, and allowing yourself intentional breaks from all of the above will help you manage the stresses of everyday life. Self care will help clear your mind of your stress and keep you focused and motivated on getting promoted.
Protect Your Mental Health
Self care helps protect your overall mental health. The key to this, is having a consistent routine with as much self care sprinkled in as possible. This way you are always boosting your mental health, keeping anxiety, depression, and other issues at bay. In addition, you should have self care plans in your back pocket to implement when you feel yourself having a decrease in your mental health and feeling burnt out. You have to allow yourself these self care breaks, because they keep you in a healthy mental space and help prevent burnout and other mental health episodes. You must be honest with yourself and know when you need to pause and take time for yourself and not wait until you reach the mental health bottom that you have to slowly crawl out of. Use self care as you would preventative medicine, to keep your mental state positive and healthy as can be.
One wonderful side effect of less stress and a positive mental health status is, more energy. The self care things you do are excellent ways to recharge your batteries every time you do them. Doing something for yourself that fills you with joy and allows you to relax can be the fuel your body needs to keep going. Allowing yourself self care breaks, even if they seem like a waste of time, will ultimately give you more time. That is because, for example, during the time you have to study you will have more energy and will likely be more focused on the task at hand. You will be able to study more in less time because you are so present and alert in what you are doing because of these self care breaks.
Routine self care also has the potential to help reduce illness. This is because if you are constantly going, you are never giving your body the break it needs, so in order to get the rest it needs your body is going to break in the form of an illness. This illness will force you to stop and rest. By adding some self care into your routine you are giving your body a break to not only recharge, but also heal whatever is going on inside that you may not even realize is happening. It will also give your body a chance to keep up with all of the normal maintenance it requires. Keeping your body in a state of exhaustion is not only unsustainable in the short term, but can also have very negative long term consequences.
If you are chronically stressed or overwhelmed because you never get a break or time for yourself, your relationships will suffer. You may be showing up for your spouse, friends or even co-workers, but you may be showing up cranky, irritable, and just unpleasant to be around because you are so tired, overwhelmed and so on. People do not want to be around someone acting like that so you may feel strain there. Allowing yourself self care time, allows you to come back to these relationships a happier person that your friends and family actually want to be around. Promoting in the fire service is going to take even more time away from most of these relationships as you need to devote a lot of time to studying. So add some self care to the end of every study session so you can be your best self to the people in your life.
Self Care Examples
Be in Nature
Pamper Yourself (Bubble bath, pedicure, massage, facial etc.)
Move Your Body (Walk, run, dance, ski, swim, etc.)
Go Out to Eat
What self care activity refills your cup is decided by you and only you. So if you enjoy cooking and never have time, make the time to cook more. If you are burnt out from cooking, order take out instead. Only you can determine what makes your self care good self care and the possibilities are endless. A great self care activity might even be trying new things.
Taking the time in your already busy schedule for self care can seem impossible. However, if you want to avoid burnout and keep your mental health good, you need to invest the time in yourself. Routine self care will keep your mind and body healthy, your relationships strong, and your study sessions more focused. Self care can come in many forms as well, so explore what self care activities recharge your batteries and help you be the best you can be so you can get promoted in the fire service.