As a Police Officer or First Responders have you ever questioned that you are missing a key element that is causing your sleep struggles, low energy, short fuse, digestive issues and other signs of burnout?
Being an outsider looking in it’s obvious to me what the problem is.
One huge mistake
I see one huge mistake that most First Responders are making. One that is causing many to struggle every single day on the job and not know how to fix it.
Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix. And a game changer in helping you get solid sleeps, give you energy for your block of shifts and more for your family, calm your anger and your stomach and help you thrive in your career and home life.
Start training like a professional athlete.
Your life as a shift working Police Officer or First Responder has more in common with a professional athlete than you may be aware of.
I’m going to assume your life growing up was most likely spent awake in the day and sleeping at night, eating on a regular schedule and socializing with everyone else who had the same schedule as you.
Then you became a shift worker working high stress crisis situations that require you to perform at your peak, remain calm and focused with energy to get you from start to finish. And then be ready with the same energy and focus for the next one, and the one after that and the one after that.
This is the same as a professional athlete.
Only one BIG difference.
When you need to peak it’s often a matter of life or death, not a series winning goal, or basket.
Athletes started playing for fun with their friends and if they were lucky, in little league. As they advanced, the games became tougher as well as the pressure. They needed to peak during the tougher games, especially the playoffs.
For many athletes their skills, technical coaching and personal knowledge carried them up until college. But once they make the college team things change. Travel to and from games, different time zones, the pressure is amplified. Very similar to you moving from basic training to active duty dealing with shift work and the reality of the job.
Police Officers and Athletes have a lot in common
If they end up on the DL their future career could be over. Just like you.
Athletes aren’t trained nutritionists, or physiotherapists. They don’t know the mindset techniques to stay calm and focused when they need to make a game winning play in the last minute to push them into the finals while 20,000 people are watching them, half booing in support of the other team. They don’t know how to mentally recover if they miss that shot and come back strong the next game.
We would never expect them to take time and energy away from their sport in order to learn how to prevent and heal injuries, eat to have energy to last throughout their game and how to recover so they can be at their peak each and every game. It would take them many degrees to learn all different types of therapy to help them manage the stress at home and on the field and get their team to the playoffs and still have reserves to remain calm and focused for the biggest play of their life in the last minute of the game.
Which is why starting from college sports a qualified team begins to form around them. Nutritionist, Personal trainer, Physiotherapist, Mindset coach and more…
We don’t expect a professional athlete to be an expert beyond their training.
Why should we expect the same for you?
You have long shifts and overtime 24/7. When a crisis situation comes up, you need to be at your peak and be able to quickly recover after, so can peak again during the next crisis.
If you can not remain calm and focused and are too tired or struggle to think because of brain fog, then you risk injuries to yourself as well as your partner.
You have the same fears as an athlete.
If you end up on the DL what will that mean to your career?
The big difference between you and a professional athlete is that your job is life or death.
How are you supposed to know how to eat on a shift schedule with all of the things thrown at you?
Do you know how to work out around different shifts, over time and the fact that you carry more than 25lbs of equipment on you from start to finish are all factors in what happens physically to your body during a crisis situation? Can your body handle a tough work out after every shift?
How are you supposed to know?
How are you supposed to know the latest techniques to get your body out of a fight or flight stressed state and into a rest and digest relaxed state to calm your brain and body (especially your stomach)?
Professional athletes have a team around them that they go to before an injury occurs to keep them off of the DL and help them recover between games, so they can peak when they need.
Imagine what it would be like to have a team around you to keep you off of the DL?
And if something does happen to put you on the DL would already have a team in place that knows you, so you can speed up your recovery and get back in the game as fast as possible?
As I see it you have 2 options.
- Option A: Continue navigating things on your own hoping that your sleep issues, exhaustion, short fuse and anger will not get worse and affect your job and family life.
- Option B: Start treating yourself like a professional athlete and build a team of experts to coach you, so you know:
How to sleep and eat on shifts with crazy hours and overtime, so you wake with energy that continues through your shift with more left over for your family.
To decrease the stress you can control, so you have room to handle the stresses you can’t without prescriptions or overwhelm.
How to support your stress management system, so that it can handle the stresses that are out of your control and prevent burnout.
Which on would you choose?
Which option sounds best to you? A?
I get it. Change is tough. When you are exhausted and overwhelmed and your brain is foggy thinking of adding something more to your already full plate seems impossible. But, do you feel that waiting longer is going to make it easier or harder to get help when you eventually have no choice? Do you want to wait until you get to that stage? Or would you like to get a team behind you that understands exactly what you are going through and has all of the supports in place to get you back to your old self who can sleep, wake with energy, is calm and so you can enjoy your family time and thrive in your career?
If you chose B, That’s amazing! Your life is about to change for the better.
The easiest way to get started is to join my Free 911 Stress Management group full of Officers and First Responders from all over the world, where you will meet others who are feeling the same way you are, learn stress management techniques and info from me and figure out which direction you want to go.
If want to get the right systems in place just like a professional athlete, so you know what to do before a crisis, peak during the crisis and recover quickly after, so you can do it all over again and again for the duration of your career without ending up on the DL, then email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me you want to set up a call to learn about my Shift Work Cure program.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
About the Author
Andi Clark is a mom, wife of a Police Officer and the founder of 911 Lifestyle.
Andi suffers from a genetic stress condition that puts her body in an increased stress response state all the time, similar to what Police Officers and First Responders experience when they put on their uniform and have to mentally prepare for whatever may happen in their day.
Through years of research and studying, Andi formulated a completely different way to look at and handle burnout. One where it is possible to reverse and prevent an officer from getting to a point where they struggle to get through their days by taking a preventative approach instead of a reactive one. And one that reduces the negative effects of shift work on the body.
Through her husbands career as an officer her focus has been on preventing burnout, exhaustion and tanked immune system that she knew can result from poorly managed stress, not to mention the toll things take on family life.
As she watched his co-workers struggle with everything from sleep, exhaustion and anger leading to divorce, PTSD and even suicide it became apparent how LIFE-SAVING the foundations she was laying down for her husband actually were, because not only was he tolerating the shiftwork lifestyle, he was thriving in it.
Andi knew that the strategies her husband was using MUST become available to all Police Officers and other First Responders. She couldn’t watch others suffering when she knew there was a solution. And 911 Lifestyle was born.