Mindfulness: “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.

We all face struggles in our lives and sometimes simply don’t know where to turn. It is difficult to remember to take care of ourselves as we go about taking care of others. One important point to remember is that “we all have a story”. Regardless of who we are, our position in life, how much money we make, what “team” we belong to, or any other marker in life we use to judge ourselves, having empathy for those that we help is so very important. The loss of a loved one, a breakup in a relationship, financial issues, or the loss of a job are just a few of the struggles we will or have faced. When helping others, remember your own struggles for they can be the best teachers.

So, how do we take care of ourselves as we prepare to help others? Well, let’s go back to the opening paragraph of this writing. Practicing “mindfulness” is taught to us by our clinicians to relax, gather our thoughts, and just “catch our breath”. You may have different ways to practice mindfulness. Some relax in a hammock, sit on the porch, lay in the grass and watch cloud formations, drift down a river in a canoe, watch your pups play, or by just taking some quiet time. There are many ways and we would love to hear what you do to practice mindfulness. We promise to incorporate your suggestions into information we share with others in our training.

To that end, I will share a technique we teach, and I practice, for mindfulness. Sit quietly alone and simply look at your hands. Think about all you have accomplished with your hands in your life. Let your thoughts drift to anything that has helped shape your life. Search for the positive ones, the time you held a bat and hit a home run as a little leaguer, the time you held a baby, touched the face of a loved one, shook hands with the principal or the dean when you received your diploma, held hands with your spouse when you exchanged vows, turned the ignition to start your first car, shook the hand of one of your idols, sat around the holiday table holding hands with all your loved ones and giving thanks for our blessings or, in the emergency services world, the first time you did chest compressions for a successful cardiac resuscitation, or started your first IV. Use them to add wonderful thoughts in your positive “file folder” we speak of often. Certainly, some unpleasant thoughts may creep in as well, but “kick them to the curb” because “we ain’t got no time for that!”

Take care of yourselves, my friends, and reach out any time we can help you. May you and yours have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and please remember all our firefighters, EMS personnel, 911 telecommunicators, law enforcement, and our military members who will all be serving to keep us safe.

Hope to see you soon… Gerald