Public safety professionals work in very unique settings, and they experience an intense job flow that most working people are not used to. 911 Dispatchers are always ready and on high-alert for that next phone call. Unlike a typical office job, a 911 Dispatcher cannot always leave their desk to take a walk outside, go down to the lobby for coffee, or check out of work an hour early.
With this high-stress job, how does one remain calm, focused, and regrouped during the chaotic times? If you’re a 911 Dispatcher who needs some stress relief of your own, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of five tips and techniques you can try right now!
Practice Breathing Techniques for Grounding
During a high-stress situation, one of the first body responses is increased breathing. This is caused by the classic “fight or flight” response. It is your body’s way of protecting you when you feel like you need to flee. This can then lead to experiencing lightheadedness, a rapid heartbeat, tingling and weakness in the body, sweaty hands/feet, increased anxiety, and chest pains. The first step in circumventing this rapid breathing is to become aware that your breathing has become irregular. My personal favorite breathing method is to breathe in deeply and slowly for the count of four, hold for seven, and exhale for eight. I find that if I can do this half a dozen to a dozen times, my breathing returns to a normal state, and I get out of the “fight or flight” zone.
Familiarize Yourself With Reflexology
There are several reflex points located on your body. In addition to relieving stress, activating your reflex points also improves the immune system, encourages better circulation, and can give you a sense of instant relaxation and calmness. The three best points for you to try right now are located:
- on the wrist (around 1”-2” from the base of your hand)
- on your palm right next to the “meaty” part of your thumb
- on the base of your nails
Choose one of these positions, and use your opposite thumb and index finger to press down. Focus on the sensation until the stress dissipates.
Play Around With Aromatherapy
Essential oils and aromatherapy have rightfully become big hits in recent years. My personal favorites are peppermint (which makes me feel instantly more alert, focused, and refreshed) and eucalyptus (which reminds me of a tropical summertime and helps me feel more level-headed and relaxed). There are so many ways to reap the benefits of essential oils! You can rub a drop of an oil onto your temples, use a diffuser at your workstation, or even apply a less-diluted chapstick or hand lotion--the possibilities are endless.
Touch Something Tactile
Amidst a high-stress situation, sometimes the best thing you can do is just touch something to bring you back to the here and now. When I visit dispatch centers, I always pay attention to what tactile objects I see on dispatchers’ desks. At one center, a woman had a clear stress-relief ball with multi-colored balls inside of it that she could squeeze. Another person had a mini zen garden with a live plant surrounded by fine sand. The garden even had a small rake that could use to draw patterns in the sand with.
Keep it Caffeine-Free
We all know that increased caffeine can cause symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, feelings of uneasiness, and general anxiety. Keeping a mug filled with your favorite non-caffeinated tea can feel like you are treating yourself, and certain blends like lemon balm, chamomile, and passionflower can help you manage your stress better.
Relieve That Stress!
Dispatching is a job that’s necessary 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Needless to say, dispatchers work extremely long hours, and the line of work is innately stressful, requiring focus, attention, and prompt responsiveness. Utilizing these tips above will help keep you more calm, collected, and resilient when those difficult times come along. As an altruistic person who does what you do because you truly enjoy helping others, it’s imperative that you give yourself a little self-love too!