15OCT

Help your partner support you on (and off) the job

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While you’re supporting the livelihood of your family – and saving the lives of strangers – who is supporting you?

Emergency care demands vast amounts of mental, physical and emotional stamina. At the end of a long shift, you have to leave the toils of the job at work and return home to be present for your family.

But no one person can carry the heavy load of the job without support. Some find it in their team, others have the benefit of sharing their life with someone outside of work who can provide the kind of emotional support that can, ideally, sustain them at work.

The work-life balance         

Research indicates that our work life impacts on our relationships – and vice versa – either negatively or positively. Conflict at home can lead to lower job satisfaction, higher levels of depression, greater psychological strain, and an increased likelihood of burnout.

For a job that inherently carries the risk of all of the above, a healthy relationship at home is vital.

For Tracey Gordon, an ER24 Intermediate Life Support, her job is her passion and she rarely finds it “tough to handle”. However, what she does find taxing is when work relationships are not smooth or, in the extreme cases, when her life or the life of her colleagues are in danger.

“We were held up at gun point before – that was difficult to go through,” she explains.

‘Til death do us part

There have been numerous studies indicating how your work life can impact on your life expectancy. More specifically, long hours, heavy demands at work and other stresses can cut down your life expectancy by up to 33 years due to the heavy toll on your health.

Conversely, another study found married people who regarded the quality of their relationships as “very-” or even “pretty happy” had an average of 20% lower chances of dying early than those in even slightly unhappy marriages.

A special set of skills

So how do you marry the benefits of a good relationship to the demands of emergency care? You put in what you’d like to get out.

Much like saving lives in emergency situations as a team, sharing a life with another person requires a special set of skills. Many of which can apply just as well on the job as it can in the home.

Communication

Tracey, who’s been in a committed relationship for 13 years, acknowledges the support her partner provides her. “It helps that he’s also a medic,” she says, attributing a lot of the support she receives to being able to communicate the highs and lows of her job to someone who truly understands (and vice versa).

Trust

Tracey has worked with a lot of people during her years as a medic and one thing she says the one thing that really makes a teamwork is trust. “I need to know I can rely on the person working alongside me.” Likewise, trust is one of the key ingredients to a satisfying love relationship. I order to bring about trust (which in turn leads to deeper intimacy), you have to be completely confident in your partner’s feelings for you, and in the fact that you have you have an authentic connection.

A good attitude

“There are people who come into the team who don’t want to be told what to do,” says Tracey, who explains that either they don’t last, or they adjust their attitudes when they realise it doesn’t serve the team dynamic.

Having a positive attitude to ‘serving’ your partner practically, is one of the key ingredients to why her relationship at home works as well. “We both have kids, so if I have to work, he takes on my responsibilities in the home. He’s very hands on.”

Take care of yourself

While the support of your partner is highly beneficial, maintaining your mental, emotional and physical health is not their responsibility.

If you neglect your mental health, your relationship will suffer. And if you neglect your marriage, your mental health can suffer. It’s important to practice self-care, especially in a field where you’re required to care for others.


References
www.healthaffairs.org
www.psycnet.apa.org
www.inpublicsafety.com

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  • I was boarded with PTSD in 2008 by (*). In those days there was no real support and if you showed any signs of stress it was seen as a weekness so there was a real stigma attatched to the problem. I am glad if things have changed, but it does not help if anyone knows about the help you receive it has to be done rather in secret cause if you put it out there it will be the point of no return. You will be seen as a risk and no service will touch you, you might as well kiss your career good buy. Ask me i am living proof of that.
    (*) Name removed