Fortem Talks – Heather Millard, Chaplain with NSW Ambulance.

The challenges of the last two years are felt across our community, first responders and their families feel it too, but carry an extra weight because of the work they are involved with.

Heather Millard sees it first hand in her capacity as a Chaplain with NSW Ambulance, “The work of a first responder is so intense while you are on shift, and during long shifts as well, the down times are really important but sometimes you can can’t even plan for that right now,” Heather says.

Click play to to hear more from Heather, including simple ways we can all build mental fitness during this time…

NSW Ambulance have some great tips on looking after your mental health during lockdown:

During unsettling times it is appropriate and natural to feel unhappy, sad, guilty and many other emotions.

We can still take steps to feel as happy and calm as we can be, even given the extreme circumstances. This can help us to weather the pandemic more effectively and strengthen ourselves, enabling us to be helpful to others in our community.

Stay connected – Technology will help us call, text, video call, send messages of hope, images of people aiding each other. Strong social connection is a key to wellbeing and can help you avoid feeling trapped or lonely.

Take care of your body – Rest, recovery, exercise and nutrition are vital for your health as well as your mood. Avoid using alcohol and others substances as a coping strategy. Stick to a regular routine of personal hygeine and dress. Stay active, even in a small space you can do a work-out at home. Start a new healthy habit.

Monitor media overload – We all want to stay up to date without getting overwhelmed. Perhaps check the
news first thing in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening.

Nature – Green spaces, fresh air and sunshine can be soothing in times of self-isolation.
Spend time in the garden, courtyard balcony or backyard.

Catch up on books, movies, podcasts, or TV shows – This is a great time to binge watch shows you want to and the ones your friends have said are a must see.

Learn and grow – Use the opportunity to your advantage by learning something new. Learn to play a musical instrument, try a new receipe, experiment with different meditations, write the book you have always wanted to, or journal your thoughts and feelings. You might start a blog or go through your things and declutter. Reengage with your favourite past times and hobbies.

Help others – In self-isolation we can still help others and draw on our altruistic nature. Call a friend or family member and offer a listening ear, start a online book club/discussion group, point people in the right direction for trusted information about the coronavirus, and be a source of reassurance or perspective giving.

Focus on the good – Even in the most trying times we see fellow humans doing wonderful things for
each other. Whether it is singing to each other across the street, children delivering groceries to the elderly, or someone taking time to create a funny music list of coronavirus themed songs. Looking out for these little moments of joy, humour, gratitude and tiny causes for hope can help get us through.

Download the the lockdown tip sheet from NSW Ambulance HERE.

Fortem activities, events and community engagements are designed to support the mental fitness of our first responder families. Read more about Our Approach.
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