When I ask Officers and First Responders what is the most important thing to them. Most instantly answer their family.
They would do anything for their family. Or so they believe…
In their heart this is true. They are sacrificing everything for them.
But at what point does it stop becoming beneficial for their family and have a negative impact on everyone involved?
To Serve and Protect.
That is the oath my husband took when he became a Police Officer. This oath is what many Officers and First Responders live by every minute of every single day.
To many Officers that I’ve asked, to them it means to put everything and anything above yourself in order to protect others.
No matter what the consequence to them self.
It filled me with pride . . .
For years I thought this was noble and it filled me with pride when one of my husband’s colleagues actions stated they lived by this rule.
But then I started seeing marriages falling apart in couples that I thought were the solid ones to look up to.
And since starting 911 Stress Management, my free group for Police and First Responders I have come to realize how much they are truly suffering.
Sleep, Exhaustion, Brain Fog, Anger/Short Fuse, Digestive Issues to name a few…
The silent struggle
Many struggle to make it through their day from the moment they wake up until the moment they try to go to sleep again.
They argue with their spouse and their kids make sure they are in another room when they get home from work because they have no idea what mood their mom/dad will be in.
They can’t help around the house because they have zero brain and energy to move and think.
It’s tough for anyone who has not experienced it to understand. That a simple task (like making a sandwich) takes so much concentration and physical energy that they are drained afterwards.
Digestive issues, for many, have gotten to the point where their colleagues joke that the bathroom is their second office because they spend so much time there on shift. Some days they even avoid eating in order to make it through their shift.
If this was your colleague, or child, or spouse. Would you tell them that it’s selfish to stop and take care of them self?
Would you discourage them from getting help? Or would you encourage them?
Would they be a better spouse, parent, colleague if they were able to sleep, boost their energy, calm their anger, improve digestion and reverse their burnout?
What do you think?
If you heard that someone (me) struggled for more than 20 years with these symptoms. They were going to doctors and specialists, taking prescriptions and nothing worked and left them feeling like this was the life they had to live. So they eventually sucked it up and continued on.
Until one day, they figured out what the root of the problem was (their stress management system was screaming for help). They reversed their burnout to the point where they fall asleep easily, stay asleep, wake with energy, and have a clear brain to think through even the toughest, most stressful problems. They are now calm and rarely yell at their kids or get angry with their spouse, and are motivated to work out, socialize and live their life again.
That they now help Officers and First Responders reverse all of these physical symptoms.
Would you encourage them to take action? Or would you think they’d be selfish if they did?
Seriously…stop for a minute and think about it.
If your child, spouse or colleague was suffering, would you tell them to continue doing what they are doing? Or would you give them permission to pause and take care of them self first?
Would you think that they were selfish?
That they were doing something that would allow them to better take care of those they love?
To Serve and Protect
What if we interpreted it all wrong?
If it actually meant to take care of ourselves, so we can serve and protect others to the best of our abilities with a strong mind and body?
What do you think of that?
From someone who has been in your shoes. There is a way to reverse burnout.
And when you do, you are able to show up and be there for your family in ways you never imagined. You enjoy work and the small things in life. Errands don’t take up all of your brain power and energy, so you have lots left over to help others and make a difference in this world.
If you are a Police Officer or First Responder and want to learn how to start sleeping again, gain your energy and motivation back, calm your short fuse/anger and your digestive system as well as all of the other physical stress symptoms reach out to me.
Let’s create a strategic plan that you can implement right away without overwhelm and prescriptions.
It’s not selfish to take care of yourself, so that you can be your best to then take care of those you love.
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.