I’ve been struggling with this since I started 911 LIfestyle
Every time I hear on the news about mental health and how we have to stop the stigma and then they continue to talk about it the Exact Same Way I wanted to pull my hair out for two reasons.
1. If something isn’t working, then change it.
The longer you sit and go in circles nothing is going to change.
If it’s broke, fix it.
This has always been one of my pet peeves. It grates on my nerves and is the reason why I am very selective with who I hang out with.
If there is a problem, don’t sit there and talk about it to every single person out there who will listen. Instead take that time to figure out a solution to the problem and fix it.
If that solution doesn’t work, then go back and figure out another solution.
End of story…
If you want to change the stigma then talk about it a completely different way.
To start with You Are Not A Victim, But A Product Of Your Environment
Which leads me to my next point.
2. I do not believe the issues with First Responders are solely “mental health” issues.
There is no doubt that the trauma’s and situations you encounter each and every shift take their toll. This is a fact that you are faced with on a daily basis.
The problem is that as a First Responder, you are also facing other issues that have you physically surviving instead of thriving in your career.
EVERY SINGLE FIRST RESPONDER pushes their stress management system to the max most every single shift.
No matter the trigger
It does not matter which stress trigger is more frequent. Mental, physical, nutritional, environmental toxins, illness/injury – they all affect your body the same.
This taxes your bodies stress management system to levels that it was not designed to handle.
I would place bets…
I would place bets based on the Officers and First Responders that are in my 911 Stress Management Group (growing daily with first responders from all over the world) that almost every single first responders’ body is giving them signals that it needs more support from the day to day stresses of the job alone.
Even officers that come from a highly competitive athletic background and and lead a very healthy lifestyle, eventually experience this stress burden on their body at some point in their career.
Many stressors can not change due to the nature of the job, so we need to change the way we approach it.
You are left without the right systems in place to support your stress management system so that it can handle the day to day of your job. (Shift work, the stress from putting on your uniform, not being able to eat when hungry, rushing to calls even if they are cleared before they get there, inside politics, filling out reports, OT, Court and the list goes on)
Your body starts to give you signals that it needs help…
Your body starts to give you signals that it needs help..
- Sleep Issues
- Brain Fog
- Short Fuse
- Judgmentalness ( I never know if this is a real word? )
- Digestive Issues
- Low motivation and more….
Many First Responders have some sort of an athletic or active lifestyle background. .
Many start on the job with a solid base knowledge of nutrition and exercise for stress relief. They thought they had it in the bag.
It’s hard to admit, being a personal trainer and nutrition coach to athletes and high level executives my whole career. I thought it would be easy to help my Police Officer husband adopt healthy lifestyle changes into his crazy shift work schedule. Even with all of the unknowns thrown at him each and every shift.
Boy was I wrong.
And as many of the Elite First Responders in my 911 Elite Performance program realize, most of the information out there is for those with a regular scheduled 8 hour day job without all of those added unknowns.
In all of my courses and certifications over the past 25 years not once were there lessons on eating and working out on a shift work schedule. Especially when your stress management system is already taxed.
And this is the key piece of the puzzle we have all been missing…
When your stress management system is taxed to its maximum level or beyond, healthy lifestyle habits are not enough to keep you from experiencing sleep issues, exhaustion, short fuse, digestive issues, constant colds, flues, allergies, injuries and even burnout…
These symptoms do not mean they have a mental health issue.
What is happening is that your stress management system needs support.
And once it’s strong again, you can start to incorporate healthy habits back into your life. Your sleep gets back on track and your energy and motivation returns.
This time in order to keep your stress management system strong, you adapt everything to your life of shift work and all of the unknowns. Instead of going back to the way you used to do things based on a mon to fri 9-5 less stressed life.
You need to train like a professional athlete.
The only difference is that instead of peaking for the playoffs, you are training to peak during crisis. And the goal is to recover quickly after and have more energy left for your family.
If you want to get back to be proactive towards your health instead of reactive and get back to how you felt when you first started on the job book a Free 911 Performance Assessment where we will talk about where you are currently at, where you want to be and together create an action plan to get you there.