Correctional officers are often asked to step up in what some call the most challenging situations related to life and death inside a large jail or prison. They must be first responders and handle critical incidents within a moment’s notice without warning or preparation. They must know how to use lethal and non-lethal force and make that decision in a split second. Needless to say their mindset has to be keenly tuned-in to be in touch with the ugly and violent world around them and how to effectively deal with distressing events which may impact their behavior on or off duty.
Looking at some of the pitfalls of developing poor mental health we need to look at your daily routines and see what negative patterns have been created since the job took over and controlled your mind. The first thing we need to do is avoid being in denial. From the moment you get up out of bed, you must realize how your activities create a pattern of thinking and actions that can be detrimental to your relationships. You must become aware it relates to moods, sleep, attitudes as well as deeper negative impressions such as stress, anxiety and depression. Bad habits related to wellness must be taken care of before coming to work and as it may undermine one’s individual ability to do the job.
As an officer, you should focus on taking on some kind of physical activity that keeps your body and mind in harmony and lighten up your way of life. It will even ease some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety thus it is a powerful tool for you. It can be as simple as a work out whether a brisk walk or a session in the gym. Working overtime or being scheduled on 12 hour shifts takes a toll on your body and if you miss too much sleep you suffer from sleep deprivation that brings stress, irritability and sadness into your lifestyle. Ensuring proper sleeping habits and taking the time to rest your body makes you a better officer in coping with your workplace environment and your personal life as well. Take advantage of the break between days off and use the time off constructively and focus on health and exercise to stay alert.
One thing I noticed working as an officer was the desire or want to have what my co-workers has or buys. Coveting personal possessions whether it is a Harley Davidson motorcycle, four-wheeler or anything else keeps you on a track to keep up with the Joneses. This often creates financial stress and a compromise between happiness and irritability that often results in irrational behaviors and personal dissatisfaction of the job or your life. Another bad habit observed was the officer’s inability to multitask that seemed impaired by obsessive thinking that is certainly very harmful for it stresses you out and create a “fight or flight” situation that causes your body to produce hormones that speed up your heart rate and breathing. It also distracts you from doing your job more effectively and takes time away from those issues that need your immediate attention instead of dwelling of thoughts in the past or future.
Many officers suffer from keeping things inside of them and not dealing with feelings that causes the mind to fester and become short tempered or irritable. Bottling up your anger is the quickest way to get into trouble and do things you might regret later. Sometimes it is better to let things go and focus on the more important things that are within your span of control and express how you feel with those you are confident will help you and your problems. Balancing your work and your personal time is essential to wellness and happiness. When it gets out of balance there are increased risks of irresponsible decision making and devalued priorities that may create more problems for you. There is a critical side-effect when your work-personal time is out of balance as it diminishes your moral values and causes you to do a poor job of your required activities that may be more harmful than good for you.
The last negative effect of not balancing your body and your mind is the fact you become a criticizer or a fault finder and expect others to be as good or perfect as you are doing the job. Your criticism may be taken as being a “whiner” and is unacceptable in a team concept in many correctional settings. You shift blame to others and all the way up to the administration. This creates conflict at work and home as it unjustly raises the bar for others to meet your expectations whether realistic or not. Your actions will only result in disappointment in others as you cope with this symptom by being irritable or moody, develop bad eating habits or stop exercising.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/07/12-ways-sabotage-our-mental-health/#ixzz2U2Vjrjhh