It’s the beginning of a new year and everyone in the world is thinking about improving their physical fitness. You on the other hand are a police professional and you know that you have to think of yourself as a professional police athlete who trains all the time, and will do so for the rest of your life. You do that because you know that this career is filled with hidden dangers that can be toxic to your physical and emotional health. You know that in order to adequately Armor Your Self™ against the negative side-effects of this career you must strengthen and condition your Self mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually every day.
Sure, you know all this, but it’s hard to do. So why don’t you use this new year to recharge your batteries and set some fresh goals to take care of yourself. Why don’t you create a positive mindset of comprehensive fitness for your Self and get started today.
How do law enforcement officers stay healthy? By building resilience and maintaining healthy and resilient police officers.
At the Law Enforcement Survival Institute we advocate building Tactical Resilience™ to help insulate yourself against all the things that might injure you in this career.
We define Tactical Resilience™ as a human quality of intentional strength and fitness exhibited through the mind, body, brain and spirit of a police officer or other law enforcement professional that allows them to withstand the rigors and hidden emotional, physical, spiritual and physiological dangers of continuous high threat, high stress situations. We call the cumulative impact of this negative health effect, “Blue Trauma Syndrome”.
Blue Trauma Syndrome is defined as a spectrum of negative physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health-effects manifested by a career in law enforcement. This concept is meant to be much broader than just blaming negative stress as the root of all problems affecting law enforcement officers.
Blue Trauma Syndrome most certainly has it’s roots in large or cumulative doses of negative occupational stress and manifests many negative physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual symptoms.
The key point to understand in our creation of the concept of Blue Trauma Syndrome is not so much as to truly define it as much as find ways to prevent it’s cumulative effects, whatever you call those cumulative effects. One of the ways that we work to prevent the negative effects of Blue Trauma Syndrome is to work to build Tactical Resilience™ in law enforcement officers and other personnel.
General Factors That Are Important in Building Your Tactical Resilience™:
Get plenty of sleep
Eat a well balanced diet and avoid unhealthy foods & toxins
Drink plenty of water and be moderate in your use of tobacco, caffeine and alcohol
Get exercise every day
Practice daily stress management
Build a stress buffer between work and home
Practice positive recreation
Put your energy into positive relationships
Don’t abuse drugs (even prescription drugs)
Have a team to support you, be part of other teams
The Armor Your Self™ concept uses a four-pronged approach to strengthen and protect the individual Mentally, Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually. Here are some thoughts about training you can do:
Improve memory and concentration
Reduce mental fatigue and Learn to notice fatigue and take breaks Improve your mental alertness and situational awareness
Enhance your problem solving skills Use puzzles, crosswords, sudoku and orienteering to sharpen your mind
Reduce emotional stress and fatigue
Manage anger and fear
Learn relaxation, breathing and meditation exercises
Develop peer and family support systems for yourself
Find recreational activities that give you fun and happiness, not more negative stress
Develop hobbies that cultivate life balance and serenity (consider art, music etc.)
Improve your overall level of physical fitness The Mayo Clinic recommends a Five Part Fitness Program that includes Aerobic Fitness, Muscular Fitness, Stretching, Core stability and Balance Training
Maintaining a proper and healthy diet and proper levels of hydration
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each sleep cycle
Improve your spiritual awareness & support systems
Spend quiet time alone considering what’s important to you
Examine your personal values, ethics, motivations and sense of honor and integrity
Seek opportunities to develop your maturity, integrity, compassion and generosity
Find ways to donate your time as well as money to help others – be a volunteer
Take a walk and use the time to process your day
CLICK HERE to download our CopsAlive.com Comprehensive Fitness Planning Worksheet to help you make a list of the tactics and exercises you want to add to your life.
So how do you make lasting changes for the better in your daily habits?
Habits are generally believed to be composed of there components: a trigger, a tactic or behavior and a reward. To start a new positive habit you initiate all three components. To change or modify a habit you already have you generally target either the trigger or the reward to change the behavior you don’t like. Consider my strategy of Habit Seeding, Feeding and Weeding.
Habit Seeding, Feeding and Weeding
Habit Seeding is doing simple things to start new positive habits. For me, after years of being nagged about flossing my teeth, I just started doing it and I still do it everyday. To me this success was a seed to remind me that I could create new positive habits any time I wanted to. For me that was a master seed that worked for other habits. Seeding new positive habits only requires you to do one small step and then use that as a springboard to catapult you into larger and more productive daily routines. I also seeded the habit of writing every day by putting a yellow sticky note up on my bathroom mirror where I see it every morning. That’s a habit seed. What can you do today to seed a new positive habit that you know you need to do right now?
Habit Feeding is supporting positive habits by either working with the trigger or the reward to encourage the on-going success of that habit. Sometimes the triggers don’t work anymore or the reward doesn’t mean as much as it used to. What do you need to do to feed your current positive habits to make sure they continue working?
Habit Weeding is all about getting rid of those negative and unhealthy habits. Generally, in order to successful weed a bad habit you need to either change or remove the trigger for the bad habit; or you need to change or remove the reward for the bad habit. There are lots of books and other self-help programs that people spend billions of dollars upon each year to address this issue. If you want to try this on your own I would recommend picking a simple and small “bad habit” to experiment with. Mine was trying to stop eating snacks after dinner while I was watching TV. I tried substituting fruit for sweets, telling myself not to eat anything after 8PM and finally I tried not watching TV. It turned out that the television was the trigger. Once I was able to identify that and removed the trigger the problem of nighttime snacking went away. I was able to add TV watching back into my life as a reward for the behavior of not snacking. What habits are you going to try to week out? How will you address either the trigger or reward for your bad habit?
CLICK HERE to download our: CopsAlive 5 Step Habit Changing Process Worksheet.
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.
Norcross, John C., Kristin Loberg, and Jonathon Norcross. Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print.
Whatever you decide to do, do it today.
Good luck and stay safe!
© Copyright 2016 – The Law Enforcement Survival Institute, LLC and CopsAlive.com – All Rights Reserved
CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival. We invite you to share your opinions, ask questions and suggest topics for us in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.
At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.
Our “Armor Your Self™: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement” on-site training program is an eight hour, hands-on, “How to” seminar that helps police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to build Tactical Resilience™ and survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE
The concept of “True Blue Valor™” is where one law enforcement officer has to muster the courage to confront a peer who is slipping both professionally and personally and endangering themselves, their peers and the public. It takes a system of organizational support and professional leadership to support and foster the concept of courage and intervention. We will train your trainers to deliver this program to your agency.
To learn more CLICK HERE
Our “Armor Your Agency™: How to Create a Healthy and Supportive Law Enforcement Agency” Program includes critical strategies that you will need to build a system of support and encouragement for a healthy and productive agency. To learn more CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE to read more about The Law Enforcement Survival Institute.
CLICK HERE if you would like to contact us to learn more about training for your organization.
CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. Thank you for reading!