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STRESS REACTIONS: Acute and Accumulated or Fatigue Stress

 

Physical
Reactions
Cognitive
Reactions
Emotional
Reactions
Behavioral
Reactions
Chest pain*
Difficulty breathing*
Shock symptoms*
Fatigue/ exhaustion
Insomnia
Sleep disturbances
Hyperactivity
Change in appetite
Digestive problems
Headaches
Nausea/ vomiting
Profuse sweating
Rapid heart rate
Thirst
Visual difficulties
Clenching of jaw
Nonspecific aches and pains
Poor concentration
Flashbacks
Difficulty with decisions
Memory disturbance
Amnesia
Confusion
Poor problem solving
Disturbed thinking
Poor abstract thinking
Change in alertness (higher or lower)
Nightmares
Disorientation
Difficulty identifying familiar objects or people
Fear
Guilt
Anger
Over-sensitivity
Emotional numbing
Loss of emotional control
Anxiety
Depression
Grief
Denial
Feeling helpless
Sense of failure
Feeling overwhelmed
Blaming others or self
Irritability
Frustration

Severe panic (rare)

Change in activity
Change in communication
Withdrawal
Suspiciousness
Hyper alertness
Heightened startle reflex
Emotional outbursts
Intense anger
Scapegoating
Inability to rest, pacing
Temporary loss or increase of appetite
Excessive alcohol consumption
Change in sexual functioning

* Get medical help if you experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe pain, or symptoms of shock (shallow breathing, rapid or weak pulse, nausea, shivering, pale and moist skin, mental confusion, and dilated pupils).
**Get mental health support if your symptoms or distress continue for several weeks or longer or interfere with your daily activities.

Stress symptoms can vary between a person being dissociated (numb, withdrawn) to being agitated (arousal symptoms).


12 Things to Try for Acute Stress:

  1. Within the first 24 to 48 hours, periods of strenuous physical exercise alternated with periods of relaxation will alleviate some of your physical reactions.

  2. Talk to people - talk is the most healing medicine. Spend time with others, both those within emergency services and those in ordinary life.

  3. Do things that feel good to you.

  4. Beware of numbing the pain with drugs or alcohol. You don't need to complicate this with a substance abuse problem.

  5. Structure your time - keep busy. Keep your life as normal as possible. As much as you can, keep the commitments you have made.

  6. You are normal and are having normal reactions. Don't label yourself crazy.

  7. Reach out - people do care. Accept offered help.

  8. Realize that those around you are also under stress. Remember that others were also affected by this incident. Help those around you as much as possible. You can help them by sharing your feelings or simply checking out how they're doing.

  9. Give yourself permission to feel rotten.

  10. Keep a journal - write your way through those sleepless hours.

  11. Eat nutritious, well-balanced meals high in carbohydrates and low in sugar. Avoid excessive use of caffeine.

  12. Don't make any big life changes, until things have settled.

For Behavioral and Physiological Fatigue Stress Symptoms and other good resources please visit Wildfirelessons.net 6 minutes for Safety

Recommendations for combating Chronic Fatigue/Stress (from 6 minutes for Safety):

  1. Take longer periods of rest/recovery

  2. Ensure that workers are adequately rested before they begin work shifts

  3. Provide periodic rest breaks to allow physical and mental recovery

  4. Alternate between heavy and light tasks

  5. Eat well -- balanced meals regularly, with energy supplements during periods of high exertion

  6. Maintain hydration

  7. Ensure workers maintain good personal hygiene

  8. Maintain high standards of physical fitness and work capacity

  9. In extreme cases, personnel may need to be relieved of their duties

Wildland Firefighters Life Challenge Program helps firefighters prevent and deal with suicide.

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