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Just 'Pause'...and take a breath!

This is quite a strange concept really as society is so incredibly busy whizzing around.

More and more pressure is being passed down the chain by managers in all companies and we are being programmed to skip meals and take less sleep, which leads to time being used far too quickly. The more we do, the more we are expected to do. Pausing and having a rest shouldn't be frowned upon.

Changing how we greet people needs to change also.

How many of us are guilty of saying, 'Hi how are you? Keeping busy?'

What is busy really? Busy busting my balls and doing stupid hours and not sleeping or not eating well. Trying to be in 2 and sometimes 3 places all at once, impossible. Pushing my blood pressure further up and constantly reminding myself that I had a 3 amp fuse in, reacting without thinking at times. So I was busy making my health, both mentally and physically bad. It was not looking good unless I did something different and changed. And through my choice, I certainly changed.

I owed it to myself.

Mental Health and Physical Health go hand in hand. This is sadly still not acceptable for some and it's not being talked about enough, but if we don't talk about it, then it won't become accepted. It will remain one of those issues best kept under wraps and pushed away. Why does it take someone to have an outburst to eventually notice? How many people are already near the edge?

But times are changing thankfully. People are realising that self-care is permissible and should be encouraged. If we don't look after ourselves, who will? And who's coming to rescue you or the rescuers when they are all broken?

I recall my times in Service, if someone had a 'blooper' and took a tumble, either whilst drilling on station or even out on the fire ground, the belly laughter and piss-taking went on for hours by those who witnessed it. It's a release of dark humour from the sights being absorbed. Laughter is so special and incredibly infectious. We really do need to remind ourselves of this more regularly.

But having one of your mates fall over or trip is hilarious. It isn't bullying to laugh and laugh some more. A bond between colleagues risking themselves for each other to save others is something many cannot comprehend unless they have been there. If it was me falling over, trust me, I was openly laughing at myself too. Momentarily laying there, thinking, 'f***, I hope no-one saw me?' Then jumping up to see and hear the reactions of many. You cannot unsee what you have seen. This goes for the funny things too.

So take the time to remind yourself that it's important to keep your sense of humour.

It's OK to Laugh.

It was only if they stayed down for a bit longer, that someone would finally go up and ask if they were ok? Obviously still laughing.

This is a good response and a healthy one.

Friendships and unspoken bonds are built by so many when laughter is shared. Being able to laugh at yourself is a skill many are losing it would appear these days.

It's the situations that occur when what should just be brushed off and dismissed, remembered for being funny, and simply dusted down from your fallen pride and gracefully allow yourself to accept and chuckle along with others, that is no longer being permitted. What the heck are we doing to ourselves?

When faced with the complete opposite of the horrors so many have witnessed, this is exactly what is needed.

This is a skill and what keeps us sane. Being able to notice and recognise when we can let go of things. How many of you that have been in a really tight situation, can recall laughing in the face of a potentially fatal outcome? Those that have been there will know what I am talking about.

The basic reaction of our instincts is the fight, flight or freeze response.

I like to add laugh!! It can't get any worse, can it?

Laughter will have a positive effect on your bodies chemistry and thinking. Do it more!

If we or others are having an abnormal response or subdued reaction then, yes there is something wrong, this is easy to see. Noticing others takes effort, patience and is a skill.

Sadly many managers within the Services are getting promoted because they can say all the 'buzz words' and yet have little or no idea how to deal with people. As a Leading Fireman, (or to be politically correct now, if I have to, I would put an emoji of rolling eyes if I could, lol,) we are now called a Crew Manager, it was my role for near on 23 years looking out for my crew and the public and of course, my family, but I will stick to work for now. Noticing those who came on duty a little quiet or subdued. No longer mixing with the conversations at mess times or sat constantly texting away and disengaged from the rest of the banter and catching up going on as we start the next shift.

The 'mess' room table is like the family sitting down for an evening meal. Collectively you sit and enjoy each others company and learn about each other's lives, troubles and successes. Sharing the good and bad times and being there for each other if needed. And it's great as long as it's constructive and useful and more importantly relevant information given as advice.

But how many of us have heard it or had it said to us,

'Oh you'll be fine, it could be worse.'

Or worse still,

'What have you got to be sad about?

Or for f*** sake cheer up', said in jest but it's certainly not received that way.

It's times like these that we can react or respond basically 3 ways.

The explosive response and outburst. It may be verbal or they are up and out, flinging back the chair and storming out. I've seen this a few times in my career.

Or the person may get up slowly, smile and come back with a bit of banter. Basically, dismiss themselves.

Or they break down and if feeling comfortable with the company that they are in, will openly just verbal diarrhoea it all out.

A quick question? Which one is the one most at risk?

Nine out of 10, it's the ones keeping it under wraps, going along with it and staying guarded who are most at risk. In the other 2 reactions are easy to see something is wrong. Keeping everything hidden and smiling at the right times or engaging in conversations, saying the right things at the right times to keep people off the scent that deep down you are falling to pieces is in itself an art and skill. I know this feeling all too well.

So, recognising signs in others is something we all do without thinking. Sadly so many are seeing them in others, but not prepared to do anything to help. Why then do we not see our own signs and just ignore them? The important point here is to identify and acknowledge the thoughts and feelings of the problems. As a Fireman for so many years, it was always about being there for everyone else. Maybe programmed my mindset in a non-healthy way.

But the Service allowed me to have logical thinking and thought processes. I fully appreciate this is incredibly difficult for many depending on what you may be dealing with. Maybe I am lucky in that I've been programmed over many years whilst in Service to find alternative outcomes, in case the first ones didn't work. I will readily search for a solution. I haven't got it all figgered out and it takes commitment and effort, both physically and mentally.

The keyword here is 'programmed.'

To be programmed, information has to be input and absorbed.

From this becomes habit and conditioning.

We react and respond, and teach ourselves to react the same every time. This is where we forget to recall how incredible we are, re-programming is very doable. It just takes time and effort. Conscious thoughts and actions.

The best lesson we can have so far is to 'pause.'

Even if it's just momentarily and you take a second to breathe, to not react, to allow yourself a second to think of your response and actions or words. The outcome can be completely different. In a fire situation, a few seconds sitting in a doorway whilst flames are licking out above your head gives you a clearer vision of the room, its layout and the whereabouts of any casualties. As soon as you open up the jet to knock back the flames with water, hitting superheated gases raging in this room you are about to enter, all visibility will be lost. You will now be reliant on your memory of what you saw just before the water reacted with the flames and any normality of vision has vanished. Or do you pulse spray the gases and move in and recover the person in the room, drag them to the safety of the doorway and then hit the seat of the fire. Use the flames as an aid to help you see and retrieve the casualty faster.

When we begin to take a moment and pause, things and life and its difficulties can be dealt with easier. I am not here to fix anyone, this has to come from within the person themselves.

Decisions should be made with information and choice.

We have the ability to control our thoughts and responses.

Problems are still problems, but solutions are possibly easy to see.

Taking a deep breath can and will make a huge difference. You not only allow yourself a chance to pause, but you fill yourself with oxygen, enhancing your thought processes.

Allow yourself time to sit and just be. Consider it a recharge of your batteries.

Be kind to yourself. Oh yeah, and don't forget to laugh!!

These 2 gentlemen were just amazing. They still make people laugh many years on.

Seek alternatives and feed your body and mind with good energy.

Remember, 'you cannot unsee what you have seen' you may as well see the good things too.

Stay connected and smile.

"Another fine mess you've gotten us into Stanley."


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