FEATURED IN INDUSTRY NEWS
- Woman’s Life Saved using Vigilant Solutions’ License Plate Recognition (LPR) Data
- Morphix Technologies Chameleon Cassette for Ammonia
- PROTECH Tactical Debuts New NIJ-06 Stand-Alone Type IV Armor Piercing Threat Plate
- Remington Introduces the Model 1100TM 50th Anniversary Knife
- The LaserLyte CM-MK4; Center Mass Laser Puts You On Target Faster!
- G-Shock Watches: Essential Gear Both On & Off Duty Available at OfficerStore.com
- Laser Technology, Inc. and Sr. Collision Reconstructionist to Co-host Crash Scene Mapping Webcast
In last month's article, Are You Unbalanced, we posed a series of questions designed to begin a process of self-reflection in which the reader asks, Am I living a well-balanced life, with work, family, friends and leisure in harmony with each other? If the reader could not answer affirmatively, the next questions are: Why not? What are the limits preventing me from living a balanced, wholly alive life? What can I do about them?
We also looked at the risks of an unbalanced life and pondered whether imbalance aggravates the effects of an already physically and emotionally punishing career. Studies suggest, and anecdotal and personal observations seem to support, that cops have shorter life expectancies, higher divorce rates and possibly even an increased likelihood of depression, alcoholism and suicide. Look at yourself and your department, and see if there s not at least a grain of evidence supporting these studies.
We looked at the distinctive aspects of a law enforcement career that can be either a blessing or curse possibly both for the ones who wear the badge and everyone who cares for them.
If you ve asked yourself, Am I living a well-balanced life, with work, family, friends and leisure in harmony with each other?, how did you answer? We hope with a resounding, Yes, of course I am. But if you said, no, or you re unsure, read on for some practical advice that will help you regain balance.
- Connect and look for social opportunities with people who are not cops:We ve all heard it in some form or another. Maybe you ve even said it: Cops should stick with cops period. We disagree. Broadening your social outlook is a major step toward creating life balance, because it forces you to broaden your experience bank and find commonality with people who have never helped carry a long-dead body out of a stifling house, done a felony stop, wrestled with an enormous angry drunk or pointed a gun at another human. Theyarevery different from you, and that s a good thing. Developing non-cop friendships can be mutually beneficial. In fact, a lot of your colleagues already do it regularly with great success. Join an adult sports league, volunteer at a local charity, become involved in your homeowners association or coach youth sports.
- Reconnect with family and friends you ve neglected:Start with those closest to you, such as your significant other, kids and immediate family. Do they feel like an important part of your life? Are you connected to theirs? If you ve done some self-examination and feel you re unbalanced, it s critical you make every effort to reconnect and remain connected. After retirement, your name will eventually become a distant memory around the department. It s family members who will accompany you into your golden years hopefully. Take steps now to ensure they re by your side later. Next, reconnect with old friends. In today s world of social networking Web sites, finding someone from the past is easier and faster than ever. Your great-aunt Mabel is on Facebook; it s time for you to get connected, too.
- Dust off (some of) yourustasand make them a part of your life now:Austais something described by Kevin Gilmartin, PhD, in his book,Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: A guide for officers and their families.It s a former favorite activity youused to(usta) do (e.g., I usta go hiking, I usta love fishing or I usta have a great fianc e ). Over time, we become so wrapped up in the job, the favorites become wistful memories. Dust some of them off, and start anew. Notice we suggested dusting offsomeof your ustas. If yours is, I usta be a helluva tight end in college, but now it s 32 years and a bum knee later, dusting that one off is just going to get you hurt. Maybe you can try, say, digging up your old saxophone or dove-and-quail gun instead.
- Learn something new to keep things fresh:For too many of us, it seems once we re well-embedded in adulthood we decide who we are now is who we will always be. When you were a kid, or even a young adult, taking up a hobby or testing a new skill wasde rigueur.Where is it written that we need to stop that at some age? Have you ever wanted to learn the drums? Then go get some. It s your turn to be the source of the noise complaint. Never stop looking for opportunities to learn something new.
- Leave work at work; it will still be there tomorrow:Possibly the biggest hurdle for many officers to clear is their inability to leave the job at station. They obsess over cases or problems at work when it s time to be fully engaged in matters of the home. In order to accomplish the other four practices above, it s necessary to commit fully to them. That means learning to leave work at the station. Even if you love your job, still practice leaving it behind when the workday is over. Learning to do this early in your career will cement the habit later and will help you to continue enjoying your career even when times aren t so bright.
Learning and ingraining good habits is key to protecting your emotional and physical health from the internal threats so many in law enforcement face. It will make you a more interesting and well-rounded person, and you ll actually enhance your performance on the job. You owe it to yourself, to the ones who love you and to your chosen profession.