Stress is a very sensitive and very real subject for many 911 dispatchers. And while it is not my intention to try for a minute to understand the dealings with that you must go through in your profession, I think that the idea of stress in a dispatch center has a very real effect on your health and well-being. With health becoming a topic of great importance in the 911 industry, as sensative of a subject it might be, I feel it is worth blogging about. Coping with stress can happen on many different levels and we all deal with it a different way. When stress effects our personal health learning how to cope with it in a productive way can make all the difference.
Reduce stress by focusing on physical health
- Change the work culture
- Healthy food in the break room
- Remove unhealthy food in vending machines
- Engage in a work program that incentivizes healthy eating and or weight loss programs
- Treadmill or bike desks at select consoles
- Incentivizing walking during breaks by slightly longer breaks or an extra break
Diet and Stress
Diet is an important factor in reducing the negative effects of stress. Even though you may not feel hungry, eat something and make sure it's healthy food. Refined sugars, fats and excessive salt elevate stress levels.
This almost goes withut saying but, use sensible eating.
- Do not use alcohol or drugs to cope. Drugs, and particularly alcohol, are powerful reaction suppressers - they numb the pain but they don't solve the problem. Talk it out - work through the problem - don't medicate it.
- Avoid anything with caffeine in it - caffeine is a stimulant and elevates blood pressure and heart rate and creates an increased need for oxygen, it stimulates the cardiac muscle and central nervous system. It causes nervousness, sleeplessness and irritability. Drink water! Stress dehydrates and dehydration can increase feelings of anxiety and stress.
Resources for Stress Management
Overcoming Stress: A guide for 9-1-1 dispatchers
Exercise the Demons-Experience the Benefits
Adult Coloring Books for Stress
I'm pretty sure that anyone who has encountered any amount of stress either personally or professionally has heard the candid quote you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people. This is particularly important in 911 dispatch, as you are responsible for the care and wellbeing of other people. Help yourslef by reducing stress and caring for yourslef. Your health matters!