As a Police Officer it’s difficult to have any sort of consistent routine with your schedule. Your lives are very different than someone who is 9-5 Monday to Friday.
When you eat, sleep and socialize varies depending on your shift as well as which project you are currently working on.
Add in court and overtime and it’s hard enough for you to track your daily comings and goings. No wonder other people have no clue when you are working, asleep and off!
The thought of creating a morning routine that you do every time you wake can be daunting.
But what you do as soon as you wake up and before you go to bed are the two times in your day that you always have control.
How you start your day can set you up for success or stress.
If you jump out of bed and run around trying to get everything you need, rush out the door, just make it to work on time and either not eat, or grabbed the quickest thing you could find to eat, then you have set your body up to start your day with your stress response in high gear.
If you get out of bed and have the same routine every time you wake up. Something that is simple and easy to follow. Then your rest and digest system (the opposite of your stress fight or flight system) stays on longer and you’ll be able to make better decisions with what you eat and how you interact with others around you.
This sets your body up to function optimally and your brain to think clearer and make better decisions throughout the day.
How can you do this when working shifts?
Keep it simple and short to start. Slowly build on it over time.
Below I break down the top three choices. But I’d suggest starting with only the first two and then once you have it work on the third. Then add to it as you feel you are ready.
The most important things to think about are how to keep yourself in the rest and digest state longest and out of fight or flight.
My top three are:
- Drink water – Start your day with a minimum of 500ml or 16 oz of water. Keep a bottle beside your bed to chug as you wake up or on the kitchen counter so you can grab it as soon as you walk in every morning.
Water helps your brain think, muscles and joints move well, and keeps your organs working optimally. Starting your day with water can make a world of difference on how your body manages stress throughout your day.
- Breathe – Breathing very slowly in and out through your nose stimulates a nerve that turns on your rest and digest system. I often get out of bed. Drink my water. Head to the bathroom and then find a nice, quiet place to breathe.
Start with 3 minutes using the Headspace app. It has 10 days in a row which gets you into the habit and teaches you how to breathe. It was a game changer for me as I thought meditating was in depth process. But it’s not!! It’s literally breathing slowly in and out as the tutorial will teach you. To this day I still go back to these 10 lessons, though some days I use a free app called Insight Timer.
- Make sure you eat a breakfast that has a protein, good fat and keep the carbs to a minimum.
This keeps you feeling full longer and stabilizes your blood sugars so your brain can think clearly and your body has longer lasting fuel (Look out for my next blog where I teach you how to eat your stress away). What you eat to start your day sets up your body in rest and digest or fight or flight.
A huge game changer!!
Let’s recap what we talked about.
A morning routine is something you have control over and can do regardless of which shift you are on.
Start with only the first two steps. And in less than 4 minutes you can have a great morning routine.
Something you can do no matter what shift you are on.
Gradually work on adding in a healthy breakfast of which you can find in my Eat Your Stress Away blog next week.
I hope you have found this helpful. If you’d like more support feel free to join my Free 911 Lifestyle Group where we work something each week together to help you sleep better and improve your energy and avoid burn out.
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