As a part of law enforcement, you face difficult situations daily. Stress is everywhere and everyone struggles with it. How it can manifest can depend on the individual’s stress management techniques and lifestyle. Research shows that police officers who don’t manage stress properly are prone to burnout, poor judgment, substance abuse, and suicide. With all of this, it isn’t often that you find an officer that isn’t stressed out.
Here are some of the sources of stress officers encounter:
- Exposure to Distress: the distress of public that you become involved with will at some point affect you. This can take a toll on stress and mental health.
- Danger: Many officers experience physical danger daily, especially departments in areas with high crime rates. The possibility of being injured can become heavy mentally.
- Responsibility: The responsibility of protecting lives is a great deal of stress in itself.
- The Pace: Officers must always be ready for all situations at a moment’s notice. Switching from office work to crime work doesn’t allow for much rest causing your mind to rush back and forth.
- Breathe: Practicing deep breaths can create a sense of calm.
- Breakfast: Eating oatmeal is said to help reduce stress. Start your day on the right foot with a beneficial breakfast.
- Exercise: It releases endorphins that eliminate tense muscles and stress.
- Sleep: Schedules can be hectic, but make sure to get enough hours of sleep. Feeling well rested the next day will help with alertness while on duty.
- Have a strong network of family and friends: Close relationships will help provide a strong support system and help with your stressors.
If you feel like the stress of the job is becoming more overwhelming, recognize that there are outlets for help. Reach out to your support system, friends and/or family. Having a life outside of the job will also help with physical and mental health. There are other options for outlets. Seek peer counseling or employee assistance programs, which are in place to assist officers in times of high stress.