Stress Tips From A TPS Officer

Police Stress Managment PTSD Toronto TPS

 

 

Today my husband joined me to chat about stressors on the job and what he does to reduce them.

Watch the video or read the transcript below .

Andi:

I thought that I would bring on my husband, Kevin.

Kevin:

Hi.

Andi:

Kevin works with Toronto Police.  I’m not sure how many of you know him. I thought that today we would talk a little bit about different stressors on the job, and I could help come up with some tips and tricks that you guys can do in order to help relieve your stress. So, Kev, what are some of the stressors or things that you feel stress creates in your body or different issues that you have with the job?

Kevin:

Well, I know a lot of the people that are out doing calls.  They come in already with a stress before they even come into work because they know that at least in Toronto, it’s such a busy place.  You know when you’re coming into work, there’s already going to be so many calls waiting for you.

That already stresses people out knowing that coming into work means there are going to be so many calls that they have to get to.

Just knowing that it’s going to be non-stop dispatched to calls or.  And it’s usually not just something simple. It’s oftentimes where you’re going to have to start thinking and stressing over a situation that you’re going to go into.

That’s certainly one of the things … It’s just the workload, you know, the amount of calls that people have to go to on a day to day basis. The type of calls go up and down, but just the amount of work does create a stress before even, you know, the shift starts, from beginning all the way to the end.

Andi:  

Are there any strategies that you already have or that you already do that help you in those situations?

Kevin:

Well, certainly being mentally prepared, having a calm routine going into your day.

Andi:

How do you do that?

Kevin:

Well, taking a couple minutes even it’s just as I’m changing out of my clothes into my uniform, just taking a few breaths and having good thoughts about my day. Also breathing, equipping myself with water and food.   I don’t know what’s happening out there but I’m certainly at least getting some water, have myself prepared with something maybe in my pocket for food. I don’t know what I’m going to get into, but to the best of my ability that I can I try to somewhat be prepared for it physically.

Andi:

That’s awesome. I’m so happy. I actually didn’t know that. It’s kind of funny that we live together and we don’t actually talk about all this stuff.

Kevin:

You’re not allowed in the locker room.

Andi:

I’m not allowed in the locker room, that’s right.  Yeah, this is true. I know Lisa, who’s on this call, has been going through a rough time recently, and I just read your post. Her daughter is doing a lot better, so I’m so happy. But Lisa has had quite a bit of stress this past week and she has said as well that the water and the breathing has been a help.

I often stress breathing whenever you have a stressful situation. Some of you here are in an office, but I know that the things you’re reading aren’t light and fluffy.  Having that breath in between, when you make sure that it’s through that left nostril, it really does engage that parasympathetic nervous system. (rest and digest system)

Do you find a difference on if you are rushing to work and rushing to get there and rushing to get your uniform on than when you give yourself that time to get there on time and to have that downtime? Do you find a difference in your stress?

Kevin:

For sure, and you’ll know that I’m usually somebody who goes to work really early just to avoid the stress of trying to get to work. It’s busy enough once you get there but, you know, everyone should be able to notice how much of a difference it is when you’re rushing to something. The decisions that you make are affected.

Think about your driving habits. When you’re driving to a call or when you’re driving to work and you know you’re either late or you’re running late or you need to get somewhere fast, every second you’re making dozens of different decisions while you’re driving, possibly hundreds your body makes. It’s very difficult to be in control of everything that happens when you’re in that stressful situation. We call it “tunnel vision”.

Where your only focus is to get where I need to get.  We see it all the time because we stop drivers that have tunnel vision, because they just need to go where they need to go, and they’re not really thinking about other people, or traffic, or they don’t care about people that are around them because they have this tunnel vision.

Something that help is to get to work five minutes earlier than you normally would. The stress of having that extra five minutes planned for decreases my stress. I expect that there’s going to be traffic or whatever it is that’s going to get me delayed in getting to work. If I get there earlier, it’s a win because I get to relax. I get to know that I can take my time, I can say hi to people, start my day off really well. I can take my time getting changed or getting myself prepped for the day. That five minutes makes a huge, huge difference versus rushing.

Andi:

The one thing you said about tunnel vision, is when your body is in its fight or flight thing … Actually, speaking of time, I know you have to get boogieing-

Kevin:

One minute.

Andi:

You have one minute, okay. Kevin might scoot out while in the middle of talking, and that’s perfectly fine.  He’s heading out to some self-care. Massage?

Kevin:

Physio.

Andi:

Physio, okay. Can’t keep track. But he’s got to head out for self-care.  He books and blocks in his schedule, in his calendar so that it’s there.  How many months out sometimes do you block it? One or two months at a time?

Kevin:

Oh, I try to set myself up for a couple of months, just so I know that that’s time for myself, you know, to physically repair myself but also just to have some time for myself as well.

Andi:

Yeah, to get out of the house away from me.  😊

No sorry, what I was getting back to about the tunnel vision is that when you’re in fight or flight all of your systems that are not necessary to fight that fight or flee, those shut down to give you more energy to deal with the situation at hand. So, your thinking changes, and your thinking gets into that tunnel vision where you get into only the thoughts of the right now, and it doesn’t allow you to really think about the full picture and everything that’s going.

For example, going to a call – When you get to a call and you’re in that fight or flight, if you don’t breathe and do something to relax you then you remain in fight or flight.  Once you’ve stopped your car and you’re walking to somebody’s door, if you focus on your breathing and calming yourself down it actually gets you into that more rest and digest state where you’ll be able to see a larger picture. You won’t be thinking of exactly right now, you’ll be able to forward think. So, you’ll be able to think of other ways to solve the problem while you’re there. The other thing as well is, as you’re walking from your car to that person’s door, chug water if that’s an option.   Or before you get out of the car.

Those are two things that you can do super-fast, or if you’re not driving you can do it while you’re in the passenger seat. It will help you calm down and help clear that tunnel vision. Also, it will help to allow you to really forward think, to really be able to think steps ahead instead of just exactly what you need to be doing right now.

All right, I know you need to boogie. Was there anything else you wanted to add to this?

Kevin:

We’ll have to save it for another session. Stay tuned.

Andi:

Okay. Bye. Love you.

 

We hope you enjoyed our chat.   There will definitely be more to come!

If you would like more access to us to learn how to reverse the effects of shift work and stress on your body sign up for our newsletter.  You will be happy you did.

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Andi

 

 

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