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7 Self-Care Tips for First Responders During COVID-19 and Stress

During these trying times, first responders are faced with coronavirus- fueled anxieties, both from patients and from themselves. A recent survey in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found  significant symptoms of “depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress ” among the first responders who participated in this survey.

“In our society, first responders have an extra burden to keep us all safe. It’s especially challenging in the era of COVID-19 for first responders to do their job. However, two things are clear: they continue to do their jobs despite personal, physical risk and COVID-19 has created more stress for them. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in substance abuse, which makes sense – until the increase creates more problems for them,” says Scott Weisenberger. “First responders need specialized treatment now more than ever.”

Here are some concrete suggestions to alleviate stress among first responders and their families:


  1. Follow COVID-19 safety best practices.
  2. Maintain healthy routines: Get exercise, eat well and prioritize sleep.
  3. Maintain supportive social relationships—distance physically rather than socially.
  4. Prioritize taking care of your family and ensuring their cohesion, health, wellness and safety.
  5. Avoid falling into negative patterns of behavior, such as drinking too much alcohol, overeating, skipping out on sleep or obsessively consuming news.
  6. Be proactive and purposeful so that your habits and routines embody your core values and ideals (e.g., family, health and wellness, faith, safety, service), rather than reactive responses to stressful circumstances (i.e., alcohol, junk food, excessive screen-time, social isolation).
  7. Now is a great time to emphasize your mindfulness practice or to create one if you don’t already.

Now with COVID-19 added to their day-to-day stressors, First Responders may be struggling more than ever – even when self-care tips are followed. We need to help them like they’ve always helped us.

Recovery Centers of America’s First Responders program is specialized treatment for first responders. The customized curriculum helps first responders relearn, cope, or readjust their view on day-to-day stresses related or not related to the job without resorting to drugs and alcohol. This way, they can get back to their calling and the job they love. 

Our integrated treatment for both substance abuse and trauma for first responders is designed based on clinical practices proven to be effective to address the specific needs of this group of professionals. It’s simple: First responders respond better when they’re in treatment with other first responders. There’s no need to explain the day-to-day challenges, worry about being in treatment with someone they may have come in contact with while on the job, or feel like others don’t get it. They’re with their peers, most of whom deal with those same challenges. That’s why RCA’s First Responders program provides first responders with separate therapy, social, exercise space, and living quarters. We also have other first responders as peer support specialists or counselors running individual and group therapy.

If you are a first responder or know a first responder who is struggling with mental health or addiction, Recovery Centers of America is here for you and your loved ones with facilities in Devon, (PA) Danvers (MA) and Westminster (MA). 

We’re here for you. If you or anyone you know needs help, all RCA locations are open and admitting patients. Our dedicated team is still available 24/7 at 1-800-RECOVERY.



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