Editor’s Note: The author of this article is a strong advocate for law enforcement. He is a mental health professional. I realize that some of the remedies suggested are not possible or practical in every agency.
The critical message here is for all of us to take a fresh look at our own mental wellbeing and then to take small, regular steps toward becoming more healthy and happy.
Be well and be safe.
Law enforcement officers are subject to intense levels of stress and physical draining in a job that requires them to be “on” at all times.
As a cop, you’ve experienced late nights, high stress encounters, and feeling like you need to take a step back. On the other hand, law enforcement can be one of the most fulfilling jobs, taking care of your community and the people you protect.
Make the most of your career as a cop by taking the best care of yourself when things get difficult so you can operate in your best mental and physical health. Follow these easy steps to manage your time and energy in a way that matches the demands of work.
CREATIVE PROACTIVE HABITS
Creating healthy habits before you feel overwhelmed is the key to managing your mental health as a cop. You can’t always control the stressful work days or dangerous situations you are put in, but you can control the habits you practice whenever you get the chance.
Creating habits will also protect your mental health if you need to recover from stress and help you “bounce back” from the most difficult situations. For example, get into the habit of meal prepping (or buying healthy prepped meals in advance) at least three times a week.
Having fresh, healthy meals available will keep your energy levels high in a physically demanding work schedule. Spend your down time stretching or doing restorative exercises to keep your brain activity and fitness levels where you’d like them to be.
You can also prioritize your sleep schedule to avoid fatigue and negative consequences of stress, like depression and anxiety.
GET THE HELP YOU NEED
Asking for help can protect your entire career as a cop. You are not expected to deal with disturbing scenarios or experiences alone, and you can rely on your community and resources to help you take care of your mental health.
Licensed psychologists and support groups exist specifically for cops to reflect and “let out” the stress other people may never understand. You may feel situational trauma after making a DUI arrest. You might feel grief or depression if you did not make it to a scene in time to help. Maybe you’d just like to be proactive and talk to someone before you experience something negative to learn how to process it in a healthy way.
Asking for help and taking advantage of your resources will protect your mental health and teach you the coping mechanisms you need to be successful as a cop.
TAKE TIME AWAY
Taking long periods of time away is not always possible with a grueling work schedule, but there are ways to make it happen in a way that supports your mental health. Making time off matter as a law enforcement officer requires some creativity and you can even bring your fellow officers in on your ideas.
READ MORE: STUMBLING INTO HAPPINESS
For example, you can schedule a work retreat with restorative activities like fitness and meditation to build your levels of stress management. Perhaps you decide to unplug from all devices during your time off so you can focus on your family and friends. Whatever it looks like for you, prioritize taking time away from the stress of work to manage your own mental health.
Working in law enforcement is one of the most draining and demanding (and important) jobs you could have chosen. Prioritizing your own mental health and stress management skills will help you be the best cop you can be, while also protecting your health in the process. Follow these simple steps if you are looking to improve your healthy habits and operate at your best mental capacity at work.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
Contact Patrick Bailey by email: HERE
Check out Pete Deininger’s guide on how to create/design a space for meditation: MEDITATIONSPACE
I HOPE YOU WILL LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THIS ARTICLE OR ABOUT CopBlue IN GENERAL.
Please check out our Facebook page: CLICK HERE
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and allowing us to share this mental health saving article with you. Our editor can be contacted via email with questions or input: Email Editor