The daily psychological stresses that police officers experience in their work put them at significantly higher risk than the general population for a host of long-term physical and mental health effects. That’s the overall finding of a major scientific study of the Buffalo Police Department called Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) conducted over five years by a University at Buffalo researcher.
An article I read made me realize that we have preached for years about the importance of stress inoculation training as the best way to get our heart rate up and get us as close to a real situation as possible, without actually putting us in harm’s way. But the culture of police work often goes against the goal of improving health. Not only are you supposed to be superhuman if you’re an officer, but you fear asking for help.
And the police culture doesn’t look favorably on people who have problems. We don’t ask for help when we need it and long term exposure can get the best of any of us. A critical ingredient to our health and longevity is awareness of the challenges and having the mindset to make sure we stay as stress-free as possible and keep our health in check.
We all have interests outside of our law enforcement/security world. Some of it may be interrelated, such as competition shooting, ground fighting, etc., and that is okay as long as we remember to enjoy ourselves. We absolutely must take time to enjoy our family and friends. This is therapeutic to our overall good mental and physical stress and I highly encourage all of us to take this part seriously. We have to disengage when we are off duty.
Keep your diet and exercise on track. Exercise is a natural draw to law enforcement, military and security professionals. Make sure we continue with a good overall workout regimen. Our ability to take care of ourselves is important, and often times a survival issue.
Keep a decent diet in check as well. A bad diet because we are stressed, in a hurry, working too much, lazy and non-disciplined only leads us deeper and deeper into health problems. Find ways to break the cycle if you find yourself going down that path.
We can all find time, even if we have to sacrifice a little here and there. Life should be fun and enjoyable. Don’t fall into a trap and let things slide because we feel like we have to be super human. Sign up for a day of TriCorps training and come out and have a great day. Get back into a good training mindset. Keeping our body and mind healthy is a great gift to yourself and your family.