Are you, or do you know exhausted police officers who go to court, work a side job or overtime shifts on days off, and wonder why they feel mentally and physically drained all the time? Everyone knows the reason for the fatigue except the cop on the hamster wheel.
Those in Law Enforcement consider themselves excellent multitaskers, and occasionally you see an exhausted multi-tasker at roll call with an empty holster. You’ve seen or done it.
Every unit, district, and department has a police officer who comes to work, court, and side jobs late thinking it is the norm. It’s not. Rarely, are we as good as we think we are at juggling a hectic life: work, kids, traffic, soccer practice and the 5 a.m. Cross-Fit class.
People need rest and “re-creation,” time away from “the job” and taking advantage of a slower pace. Law enforcers are “professional observers, watching people all day, everyday. Some of us need to look in the mirror and realize that our zip drive is full! We have to make rest a priority in order to reduce the growing amount of stress.
Leonardo DaVinci said, “Every now and then, go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”
I recently asked three officers what they did to relax and unwind. Here are some of their answers.
“On my days off, I make it a priority to relax and get lost in a good book. Sometimes enjoy a nice cigar”.
“With all the evil I’ve seen and dealt with over a twenty-five year career, I find time to rest while fishing. It really helps relieve the tension from the job. Having that peace and quiet is an essential balance for all the noise I hear at work!”
“I make a habit of NOT watching television on my days off. My wife loves how productive I become. I get errands done without distractions of the television”.
Their answers impressed me because I know many in law enforcement that do not understand the benefit of rest. I know too many officers that are constantly moving and doing, yet getting little accomplished.
When drained, we think we don’t deserve to take a break, so we overlook our body’s hints about rest. Our culture pressures us to be productive 24/7. Nothing encourages us to stop.
We are in such a hurry that we seem to be getting behind rather than ahead. Only when we help ourselves can we help others and be effective. Rest is essential to physical and mental well-being. The faster you’re going, the more you need downtime and deep rest. You will better serve everyone in your life when rested, and will love your life more.
Taking time for ourselves may seem like a luxury, or even selfish until we are overcome with a cold, flu, or worse and are forced to rest. Break that cycle. Find time to re-create yourself.
Rachel Macy Stafford Author of “Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More” spoke on FOX News about her book. She wrote that being busy has become a badge of honor, yet leaves us unfulfilled.
It does not illicit feelings of peace or contentment. It is not something we will reminisce about when we take our last breath. We respond to messages and emails immediately (or at least feel like we have to). We attend social functions at the expense of family time.
We say yes to committees and other commitments because we can’t say no or because we mistakenly believe it will bring us acceptance or prestige.
One simple but powerful strategy Rachel began using when at the height of her distracted, overcommitted, stressed-out life, was to begin asking the following three questions on a regular basis:
- Does the amount of time and attention I currently offer to my family convey that they are a top priority in my life?
- Does my current schedule allow for time spent simply being all there with my loved ones?
- Do I have any extracurricular commitments or time-wasting distractions I could eliminate in order to spend a few minutes of special time each day with my children or spouse?
We all get caught up in our busy lives, we all need to be reminded from time to time to relax, rest and spend time with the people we love.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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