A few weeks ago, I received a request from a long-time peer support member of a public safety agency I work with. He was asking for some very simple support strategies for a first responder involved in a recent crisis situation.

Before I tell you how I answered him, let me, if I may, share a few related thoughts.

In the crisis recovery world, we talk about the value and importance of “bouncing back” and often refer to it as personal resiliency. In my years of providing critical incident stress management to the workplace, personal resilience has become, for some people, a complicated and intimidating idea. Some workplaces have experienced it as a secret and/or mysterious concept that applies to specific environments, understood only by the gifted and well-educated, or as too difficult or unrealistic an intervention to
carry out.

As we understand the ever-evolving capabilities of the brain, we continue to reinforce many of the remedies we always knew to be helpful by grounding them in the emerging science. A few tenets of a trauma-informed or, as we say at FEI, “move to the front” workplace include the following ideas organizational leadership can sponsor:

  • Provide support, including psychological first aid, and prevention-based education.
  • Be sensitive to the impact of adverse experiences on staff, both personally and on the job.
  • Encourage employees to create and put into practice their own personal wellness plans.

So, back to that request for a simple recovery strategy I mentioned at the beginning. Sometimes it’s easier to understand hard to remember things by using acronyms such as K.I.S.S.—“Keep It Simple, Silly.” In the case of a resiliency or wellness strategy, I told the requestor to use H.A.L.T.

This age-old recovery aid that I learned from a friend and mentor in the alcohol and other drug treatment industry still remains my best tried-and-true answer for what works: Don’t allow yourself to get too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely, or too Tired. Or, H.A.L.T.

If you or someone you supervise is having trouble bouncing back from something or someone, run yourself through each of these core wellness-related areas and you may find your best next step.

I’ve seen it work. Pass it on.