Stress Injuries

Stress injury is the term used by the military in Combat and Operational Stress First Aid and adopted by many first responder agencies to describe occupational injuries that occur in the presence of overwhelming stress and exposure to psychological stress in the line of duty (professional or volunteer).

While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often used synonymously with stress injuries, occupational stress injuries occur on a continuum, with both early and late changing effects of stress exposure. PTSD often represents later changing reactions. 

Anyone can be injured. Like other injury types, stress injuries are best supported when recognized early and mitigated.

Guides can often experience stress injuries due to repeated stressors in our jobs and lifestyle. 


Learn more at The Responder Alliance

Commons stressors for guides: 

  • Near misses and repeated near misses over a trip or season 
  • Antisocial hours and lifestyle – hard to maintain personal relationships
  • Lots of travel 
  • Guide training and exam stress 
  • Performance anxiety 

Once you add an accident or death of a colleague, client, or friend, guides are at high risk for severe stress injuries. 


Stress Recovery and Self Care Strategies


In some cases, people  resort to  unhealthy coping strategies to deal with stress and stress injuries. Such as:

  • Substance use 
  • Going climbing to disassociate and avoid 
  • Socially isolating 

Some healthy coping strategies for preventing stress injuries include: 

  • Develop a mindfulness practice
  • Reach out for help – create connection and community. Talk to people you trust about what you are going through 
  • Get good sleep and adequate rest
  • Eat and drink well  – avoid excessive alcohol or drugs 
  • Try other forms of movement such as yoga or tai-chi 
  • Connect with a mental healthcare professional 

Learn more about Stress Injuries in this interview with Laura McGladrey from the Responder Alliance

Check out our resources page


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