Published June 12, 2015
Last week’s flooding and explosion situation in Ghana made me pause for a second to think about our law enforcement personnel, who are working round the clock to ensure that we are all safe and sound.
That must mean working long hours, with limited sleep and surviving on a lot of coffee or tea. This is definitely a good time to talk about the stresses associated with law enforcement jobs. Even though I am not a police officer, there are days when I really look forward to a weekend’s rest because life, in general, can be very stressful (even for a young person, with tons of energy).
This month, let’s all take a refresher course on how to deal with work related stress. Most of the tips I’ll provide were derived from our “Employing Specialized Techniques in Transnational Organized Crime” (TOCI), course so know that they do work!
There are times we all get caught up in so many work activities and we may feel that there are a thousand and one people pulling us from each angle- everyone wants a piece of you. As law enforcement personnel, you may at certain times be required to report to several supervisors about a case you’re investigating. And, well, that could be a source of pressure. Like an RTC instructor once said, “Do not let management or your case agent push you into doing something that you’re not comfortable with.” Remember to have your well-being at heart and it should be a priority of yours to ensure that your mind and body are in a good place.
You may not be on a lifelong journey of self-discovery, but I’m pretty sure you all know yourselves. We know our limits and our boundaries and we know when we’re full of energy and when we’re fatigued. What are some of the things that trigger stress in you? Are you aware of your stress symptoms? (I have heard of how some people react to stress. Some cry, others laugh. Some sleep, others stay awake for long hours counting sheep). Our physical bodies also give off some weird reactions sometimes when we’re reaching high stress levels. Know when to slow things down a bit and steer clear of things that generally get you overly stressed out.
Sometimes we get so immersed in our work lives that we lose touch with our friends and family. This should not be the case. We all need good support systems and that can be provided by our friends and family. When was the last time you called your best friend, just to say hello? Take a nice long walk with a trusted friend and let it all out (no classified information though). This tends to have a therapeutic effect and can go a long way to lowering our stress levels. There’s nothing warmer than a good reassuring hug from a friend or family. Hug it out!
We’re halfway through the year. You may want to ask yourself “when was the last time I did something fun?” You may realize that the first part of the year has been spent investigating some major crime or doing undercover jobs. Not to say that the aforementioned are not important, but it’s good to take a break once in a while to get in touch with yourself. Go out to the movies, to the beach, invite a couple of friends over for some pizza or fufu (depending on your level of stress- fufu is said to be an instant stress reliever!) Sports can also lower your stress levels significantly. A casual jog in the morning, cycling, swimming, or napping (yes sleeping is a well renowned sport!). Find some downtime and use it for a recreational activity.
Who does not love some rest and relaxation? Maybe it’s time to shut down that laptop, turn off that phone, listen to some music, and enjoy some alone time. Just the thought of rest relaxes me. Remember to eat a well-balanced diet, drink less coffee and drink more water instead. I’m sure after a week of rest your body would be refueled to take on more tasks.
Writing this blog post is a relaxing activity for me. What do you do to manage your stress levels? Feel free to share some tips and suggestions with the entire alumni network; you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep sharing. The RTC values its alumni and wishes to have a strong and healthy network of law enforcement personnel!
[Post by: Sarah Dadson. Sarah is the Participant & Alumni Coordinator for the West Africa Regional Training Center. Email her at email@example.com]