Day to day, week to week, it all starts to feel like mush, doesn't it?
You wake up and go to the same old job, doing the same old things, time and time again. Maybe you've only been doing it 2 months, 2 years or 2 decades, everyone starts to experience burnout (If you don't, please teach me your ways). When this happens, if you can't follow methods listed in previous articles, vacationing, hobby, etc.. You MUST make work a fun place to be at! Change up the environment before you yourself become the emergency. How can you help others if you can't help yourself, right? Boring office chairs? Switch them out for the comfortable and ergonomic yoga ball! We had a few in our center for awhile (given now one is remaining and sometimes used for a foot rest), but while they lasted it was fun between calls, balancing away and typing!
Maybe you just need to get everyone working together so clocking in doesn't feel like such a daunting task! Try dispatch bingo! Make the words things like "Fire Hydrant", "Smoke", "Back Pain", etc. you can even do big bingo cards (huge) and do shift vs shift!
Another fun one we do during Christmas time, which can be adapted to any season, is "Find The Elf". Where you hide an Elf On The Shelf in various locations in the radio room, and leave clues/hints for the next shift. It's super fun to get creative!
So don't let the boredom of work and burnout get you down, find a reason to WANT to come to work, be it to have fun, to see your friends, or to learn something new, only YOU can control the outcome of your own tomorrow.
"Stress & The Telecommunicator"
Just one of the many, many classes taught by LEOTTA (Law Enforcement Technology Training Associates) Communications Technology division. Taught by the one and only, Nancy Jewitt.
(https://www.leotta.co/ct-105.html) "This course will assist students in identifying the different types of stress that affect professional telecommunicators and explain the causes, signs and symptoms of these stressors. Students will differentiate between job-related and personal stress and how to recognize when someone you work with is in a "stress emergency.”
Students will also be armed with appropriate tools to help alleviate stress and assist law enforcement administrators with developing policies for defusing, debriefing, and follow-up care of dispatch personnel. The role of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team will be reviewed as well as available resources to get help for yourself, a co-worker, a friend, or a family member.
Covered Topics Include:
Many of the challenges new dispatchers face will be reviewed, including:
•Mass casualty incidents/natural disasters Officer-involved incidents
•Line-Of-Duty-Death / death within the department
•Incidents involving family or friends
•Injury/death of an infant or small child
The physiological affects that constant stress has on the body will be reviewed as well as how to realistically and positively cope with the stress of the job, and protecting yourself from burn-out.
Students will have the opportunity to ask questions, share opinions, and express ideas as Day 2 of the course provides an open symposium in which guest dispatchers who have experienced career incidents discuss those incidents and their physical and psychological responses to such incidents.
Who Should Attend?
This course is for public safety dispatchers who have more than one year professional experience or telecommunicators who have been exposed to stressful and strenuous situations in the public safety environment. Public safety dispatch supervisors are also encouraged to attend this course to understand the needs of their personnel when subjected to stressful environments.
Contact for LEOTTA: firstname.lastname@example.org 2165031113
Get up for work. Go home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Get up for work. Go home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Get up for work. Go home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Get up for work. Go home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
This might be your everyday life, I know it was mine for a long while. If that is all you do, and it works for you, great! Problem being, this doesn't really work for anyone, long-term. This might last you a couple weeks, months, maybe even a year... but eventually the inevitable happens, you get tired of the same ol' same ol'.
So what now? Go get a drink after work with friends, or binge watching a television show on Netflix. Possibly start going to the local bar every night to meat your one true love (for the single dispatchers out there) (p.s. *spoiler alert* you probably aren't finding mr or mrs right in the local pub). We all start trying to fill the gaps in our lives with SOMETHING.. It's just that something usually isn't one of the best things for us to be doing.
Healthy Habits- Get a hobby/habit that you can stick to on a regular basis to help you unplug from the stressful work we do. Try hitting up your local fitness center, see if they offer any classes like Kick Boxing, Yoga, Cycling, etc. Or for us here in the south, we always can fall back on going shooting, going to the local lake and fishing for a few hours of the day or even just going to enjoy nature on one of the many, many walking trails within 30 minutes of us. If none of the "healthy" options appease your time consuming appetite, try learning a new skill! There is literally thousands upon thousands of videos for anything and everything you might want to learn on the internet. Want to DIY your house? Spruce up your garden? There's instructional videos and articles on that all over the web.
Whether you're getting active, just getting out, or filling you brain with knowledge.. find something that interests you the most, that DOESN'T negatively effect your health, stick to it, and do the best you can at it!
Hello followers! I would really like to make use of the "Ask a Dispatcher" page here, if you go to the top right of the page, and fill out the form with any question or concern you might have, whether it is a fellow dispatcher asking a question, or a non-dispatcher wanting to know how something works - or why it is the way it is... Submit your questions and I will post them on the page ANONYMOUSLY.
Also, if you have a stress related incident or something you would like to talk about, feel free to contact me and I will reply as soon as I can, or point you in the direction of the person who can best answer your question.
I can't wait to have a drink.
Oh my God, I am so stressed I NEED a beer.
I can't wait for my Friday so I can have a drink!
... We've all been there, but when does your "Friday" start happening every day of the week? Are you finding yourself stopping at the gas station after every shift to pick up a six pack? To some of you that might sound ridiculous, but to others, it's a reality. One day of drinking leads to two, three, four.. before you know it you have someone hungover, or worse, drunk, at the dispatch console. Not only is it terrible for your health ( everything is okay in moderation) but it could be detrimental to your county you dispatch for, and your center as a whole if you show up unable to preform your job functions at 110%.
You can try to do it yourself, It might work! There are many, many resources across the internet to help you do so, such as Kevin O'Hara's book "Hang Loose Without Booze: 81 Simple Tools to Stress Less and Relax More Without Drinking Alcohol". Whether it's you, or maybe you get the book or a similar one for a friend, it helps. In O'Hara's book he really hits it home with his advice on how to handle your drinking problem. ** This book is not a substitute for a physician or medical advice **
Alcohol is a short term fix for a long term problem, we all like to have a drink every now and then, and that's perfectly fine! When you start having to hide it, or when it interferes with your normal day to day life.. that's when the issue arises, and believe it or not, alcohol is a depressant, so cheers to a better mood! Basically, its NOT going to solve and problems, refer back to my earlier blog http://dispatcherdown.weebly.com/home/finding-the-focal-point for tips on reducing stress in your life!
"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail" - Kevin O'Hara
I'm tired of this place.
I can't work one more shift.
They're out to get me.
I'm the only one that gets into trouble.
Sayings we have ALL heard at one point in our career (some on a daily basis), question is.. are you the one saying them? Do you feel like no matter what you do, nothing is good enough for your center/agency? Once you get on this negative track, it can and will be a very, very dark place that is hard to get out of. If you catch yourself feeling this way, it's best to stop that train long before it ever leaves the station, because its a downhill slope and there's no brakes. Ask yourself, why do you feel this way? Maybe you are being singled out.. more than likely though that isn't the case. Just about EVERYONE gets into trouble at some point in their career, and depending on the personality type you have, one incident can lead to many others. One day you forget to put a unit "On Scene", you get written up.. you get soooo focused on not doing that again, you forget to put both units enroute ("enroot" for the northerners LOL ) like you needed to, or you forget to status check them every few minutes ( if you all do that in your center). Needless to say, it is a snowball effect more than it isn't. The best thing you can do, is to STOP WORRYING! It will never get you anywhere in life being worried, other than feeling ill, trust me, I've been there on several occasions! Keep your head up, put a smile on your face, and be confident. Confidence not only reflects on your peers, but it makes you feel better at the end of the day, like you can conquer the world (or your county).
The best way to do this, is de-stress before you get to work. Everyone will be different, but for me, I have a 30 minute drive to work, I use that time to absolutely jam out! So if that is what might help you, try it, crank the volume up and sing like no one is watching (except at redlights, they DEFINATELY watch). Or maybe for you ladies (or men, I don't judge) it is taking a relaxing bath before you head in for your 12 hour shift you could try some stress relief foam bath --> http://amzn.to/2qbPEBS .
So de-stress, keep a clear mind, hold you head up high and walk into work like you own the place!
"Stress is a feeling that can be difficult to shake. It is a state of emotional strain that we experience when dealing with adverse or difficult circumstances. Many people become so accustomed to living with stress during the course of their adult life that they forget what it's like to experience a sustained moment of peace.
Interestingly, when some people are asked to clarify what may be stressing them out, they struggle to articulate it. This is largely because they haven't taken the time to identify the true source of their stress. As a result, it may begin to feel like just about everything is producing some level of tension in their lives. " - This is a brief passage from Armin Bergmann's book "30 Simple Habits For Reducing Stress: An easier way to relieve tension, clarify your priorities and enjoy a better life" In his book he talks about how you can recognize the stress causing factor in YOUR life, and the steps to doing so. It also refers to avoiding unnecessary stress. This is all due to what he said, you live your life day to day with these causes of stress you unknowingly choose to have, and since it is such the "norm" you start thinking there isn't anything you can do to change it.
So, what is causing your stress? Is there that one certain thing in your life that saturates everything so much with stress or anxiety it carries over to every aspect of your life? Maybe it is a mixture of every little thing that makes everyday feel like a "Monday". You must focus on yourself, and redact the stress inducer from your life. As Armin says, "The better we begin to "know ourselves", the more we can effectively understand the impact our stress is truly having on our lives. ". He says it much better than I can, and his book is only 2.99$ (free with KindleUnlimited) get it here! ---> http://amzn.to/2r84Uhm
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
– Sydney J. Harris
No matter which department you work for, no matter if you work 8 hour shifts, 10 hour or even 12 hour shifts, at the end of the day, we all go home. We may not have the same physical danger that Police Officers, Firefighters, and EMTs do, but we definitely and I mean definitely have the same if not more psychological effects in the short and long term. You might not have to see the teenager's head crushed in by a power pole, or the lifeless woman on the couch, but you had to hear what the caller saw, or you had to hear the woman who was calling for chest pain take her last breath while she was talking to you. This might not seem like a big deal, but in the long run it builds up, I've been on both sides of the radio, and I guarantee you it is easier being on scene seeing it, knowing what is happening, rather than just hearing the beginning and never getting an end result. All of this builds up, into you guessed it! Stress. Stressing about if that little girl made it after they found her unconscious, or if that poor old lady is doing okay after that car wreck. Stress can, and will follow you home, if you let it. This is where it comes into play of, what do you bring home vs what do you leave at the dispatch door? And honestly, it depends. It depends on what kind of person you are, and what kind of people you have at home. If you and your family, are all say, in the emergency field ( Nurses, EMTs, Officers, etc.) then they will know what you're going through, and they will be more than happy to talk to you about it. Now if at home it's a no go to share those kind of stories and get them off your chest (leaving out names, of course) then even in the previous case, share the good stories! Share the time earlier today when the little girl got found safe, playing in the park down the road, or the grandma that got revived on scene. Sharing the positive stories will not only help you feel like you've done a good job, and help you have a more positive out look on your work. So take home what you feel like you can, and if there is just absolutely something you need to talk to someone about, talk to a coworker, or even reach out anonymously to a Facebook group or other like entity. Point is, if you just go home at the end of the day, bottling everything up inside, you won't be a happy person. You can do it for a little while, sure, but keeping stress IN is NOT a good idea. If that means coming home and going on a run, then make it happen! Ladies, all the women in my family constantly rave about Eucalyptus/Spearmint items for their stress relief, a lot of them use the candles http://amzn.to/2piIcpg , I however am not a candle person, not sure if it's the firefighter in me or what, but I prefer a good stress ball! Here is a set of 3 you and two of your coworkers can enjoy -> http://amzn.to/2q25vmj if you are feeling generous, you can even leave it at your station (if you center shares stations with shifts) for the next shift to enjoy and squeeze the stress right out every time you have to check "local and surrounding warrants"!
Now, what do I LEAVE at work? What do I NOT let bother me? Two words, WORK DRAMA. The stuff that really, does not matter and you should absolutely not let it bother you. That girl who told you to check on your people, or that guy who said he knows more than you do, or when your boss got onto you for something you did wrong. Let it go. If it isn't something that is going to matter in a few weeks, days or even hours, I can assure you it is NOT worth stressing out about. If it's over that lazy employee who gets all the credit for the work they won't do.... I promise you, from experience, those "workers" will weed themselves out in the end, it always happens.
So when you clock out today, take a deep breath before you walk out the door, know that what YOU DO MATTERS. Go home, talk to your family, go for a run ( or a brisk walk like I would have to LOL), and check yourself at the door! As always, any questions or concerns shoot me an email through the contact page at the top of the page!
"Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices - today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it. - Kevyn Aucoin"
Stress management, it's one of those things that the longer you wait to do it, the more you were going to wish you had started earlier. You have to find a way that works for YOU, there is no one way to beat all ways, everyone is different. For some people in my center they that means sitting at home watching tv on the weekends, and for others that means hitting the gym every morning before work. Personally, what I just recently started, and works for me very well, is Krav Maga (Self Defense system designed for the Israeli Defense Forces). There's SO many tips, tricks, everything you can think of to help relieve stress, even a "For Dummies" series book on it which you can get here-> http://amzn.to/2pTebcY .
Find your inner Jedi, maybe even your outer Monk! Point is, at one point or another in your career you will HAVE to deal with the stress, no one is immune! Another way I have seen some dispatchers relieve some stress while at work (crazy, right?) is with an under the desk foot peddler found here-> http://amzn.to/2qcogV2, (check your centers policies prior, and don't get your foot pedal cords tangled up!). Stress build up leads to burn out, and trust me when I say burnout in a career you care so much about, will not be good for you or anyone else when you come to work with an "I'd rather be shoveling dirt" attitude. Officers can hear it in your voice, and your coworkers can see it on your face.. Find your way to relieve your stress, and don't stop! Use your weekends to detach yourself from the work world! Stay positive my friends!