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5 minutes reading time (1072 words)

The Shift Change Stress Zone


​There is nothing like finally having down a set schedule. Having everything in its place. Everything is jiving. Then it happens, it is time for shift change. Now I know that some of you are so go with the flow, rolling with the punches and still come out smelling like flowers....well maybe not flowers but you get my point right. Others can find this time of the year stressful. The outcome of shift change can turn your world upside down. It can change school plans, childcare, how often you get to see your spouse or partner, it can change your vacation plans, and the list goes on. 

This time I am no exception. For the first time in years I am going to be working on opposing sides of the week from my husband. Now although this was planned and we knew hardships would come with it. This was a change that needed to happen, it made more sense for our home life to help with the kids. We have three girls and each of them are in two activities, which means tons of running around for whomever has the kids that day. We wanted to give our families a break from all the hustle and bustle. We wanted to take on the task ourselves, not only so that they had one of us each day of the week but to also help out with school work. In order to do this we had to make some sacrifices as all families do. Like I said even though this was planned, we know this will also take a toll and bring on some new stressors.

Changes at work are considered to be included in the top 10 most stressful life events for adults. Other stresses that we are all familiar with at home and confront at work are selling your home, starting a new job, becoming a victim of a crime, death of a family member, marriage, divorce etc. Stressors, we have been told are usually looked at as a just mental mindset, shoot for the stars, find the silver lining, yada yada blah blah blah! However, If you do not have a plan set, a way to navigate and release the stress it can take a toll on your health.

Stress can come in many forms and unfortunately in Law Enforcement we experience stress daily, wether it be in the field or in the dispatch center. I don't think there has been one day in the last 18years that I have not had someone yell at me, blame me for their issues, cuss me out, or remind me that they pay my salary! These continuing stressors can turn into Chronic pain, Obesity, Depression, Anxiety, & Accelerated Aging (well that explains a-lot!) to name a few. I also found out that during my research that I believe (this is me diagnosing myself) that I possibly have chronic stress, which is degenerative by the way, it consists of feeling jumpy, unable to settle down, the need to always be doing something, & always feeling behind in my daily tasks! After reading this though, I thought maybe thats just my type A personality mixed in with being a dispatcher and a mom! I do not even recognize what down time is! Am I alone here?! Anyone?

So now that we have taken the first step in recognizing that we do have some stress in our day to day lives that we either prepared for or have taken us by surprise. What else can we do to lighten the blow?

  1. Take it outside. Go take a breath of fresh air. Go for a walk, a hike, or a run to clear your head. Let your pathway take a beating!
  2. Get Some Laughter: Read some Sunday comics (does anyone do this anymore?), watch a funny movie, or talk to that friend that always leaves you doubling over laughing in tears. 
  3. Breathing Techniques. Does anyone remember Family Matters? The scene where Carl says " what the heck is bothering me?" Right before he feels the need to strangle Steve Urkele? Maybe I just completely outdated myself here and maybe you really do not have to say that out loud tp yourself, but you can do some breathing to calm down. If you have an apple watch there is a breathing app built right in. If you do not have that available try taking some deep breaths. You can do this in your dispatch center in your chair or in your patrol unit. Have your back straight, arms at your sides or on the arm rests and take a deep slow breath in through your nose for 5-6 seconds. Hold it in and then breathe out through your mouth slowly for 7 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Take note of how you feel after! 
  4. Exercise. I know that this is always my go to on the blog but it is true! Seriously, where else can you take all of your anger out as hard as you want to without getting arrested! I kid, but seriously get at it, blow off some steam even if it is for 10 minutes at least your moving. If you want a more relaxing form of exercise you can always go with yoga or pilates (yes guys, you can do this too! Stop rolling your eyes!)
  5. Eat Well. Again I know this might seem like a repetitive topic but it is what it is. Sure when we are stressed we have it in our minds that we need to snack, we need that fatty or high carb food that is left in our fridge, pantry, or always to be found in the dispatch center. However, once that food is consumed we can enter into that all to familiar food coma, feeling worse than we did before. Take care of your body and it will take care of you!
  6. Get A Massage. This might be foreign to some people, but if you have not tried it, it is a must! Nothing is more relaxing! You would be surprised to find out how tense and knotted up your body can become when you hold on to stress! 

Time to start letting go and relieve some stress! Let me know what works for you! 

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