The Mathematics of Stress in Law Enforcement

Common wisdom always dictates that you must subtract things to make your life better.  If you are on a diet you must reduce calories, if you are on a budget you must reduce your debt, and if you are a cop you must learn to reduce the effects of negative stresses.

However, human nature really wants to add to our lives when we are stressed.  We drink more, smoke more or eat more.  Maybe as police officers we should take advantage of our human nature and find ways to add positive things instead of negative things that will only cause more stress and compound the problem.

You might try making a list of 12 things that are causing you stress:
1.  bills
2.  relationships
3.  job stress or “Cop Stress”
4.  weight

you might want to rate these in order of importance from 1-12 and start with the most important one as #1.

Consider what you could ADD to your life that would help deal better with your stress.  Where you might start drinking more to reduce tension, you might consider adding more exercise, running an extra 15 minutes a day would make a tremendous difference.

Where you might start smoking more often to deal with

Human nature also doesn’t want to try too many new things at a time so you could start with number one and work on it for a month and then add number two the following month.  After a year you may have made significant progress toward reducing your stress by adding to your life rather than subtracting.

Even though it doesn’t have to do specifically with law enforcement stress, WebMD lists some very interesting statistics about stess:
*  Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
* Seventy-five to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
* Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
* The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States declared stress a hazard of the workplace. In terms of lost hours due to absenteeism, reduced productivity and workers’ compensation benefits, stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
* The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

WebMD University has some interesting lessons to learn about and deal with the bad stresses in your life.  Check them out at:

About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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