I’ve been struggling with this since I started 911 LIfestyle
Every time I hear on the news about mental health and how we have to stop the stigma and then they continue to talk about it the Exact Same Way I wanted to pull my hair out for two reasons.
1. If something isn’t working, then change it.
The longer you sit and go in circles nothing is going to change.
If it’s broke, fix it.
This has always been one of my pet peeves. It grates on my nerves and is the reason why I am very selective with who I hang out with.
If there is a problem, don’t sit there and talk about it to every single person out there who will listen. Instead take that time to figure out a solution to the problem and fix it.
If that solution doesn’t work, then go back and figure out another solution.
End of story…
If you want to change the stigma then talk about it a completely different way.
To start with You Are Not A Victim, But A Product Of Your Environment
Which leads me to my next point.
2. I do not believe the issues with First Responders are solely “mental health” issues.
There is no doubt that the trauma’s and situations you encounter each and every shift take their toll. This is a fact that you are faced with on a daily basis.
The problem is that as a First Responder, you are also facing other issues that have you physically surviving instead of thriving in your career.
EVERY SINGLE FIRST RESPONDER pushes their stress management system to the max most every single shift.
No matter the trigger
It does not matter which stress trigger is more frequent. Mental, physical, nutritional, environmental toxins, illness/injury – they all affect your body the same.
This taxes your bodies stress management system to levels that it was not designed to handle.
I would place bets…
I would place bets based on the Officers and First Responders that are in my 911 Stress Management Group (growing daily with first responders from all over the world) that almost every single first responders’ body is giving them signals that it needs more support from the day to day stresses of the job alone.
Even officers that come from a highly competitive athletic background and and lead a very healthy lifestyle, eventually experience this stress burden on their body at some point in their career.
Many stressors can not change due to the nature of the job, so we need to change the way we approach it.
You are left without the right systems in place to support your stress management system so that it can handle the day to day of your job. (Shift work, the stress from putting on your uniform, not being able to eat when hungry, rushing to calls even if they are cleared before they get there, inside politics, filling out reports, OT, Court and the list goes on)
Your body starts to give you signals that it needs help…
Your body starts to give you signals that it needs help..
- Sleep Issues
- Brain Fog
- Short Fuse
- Judgmentalness ( I never know if this is a real word? )
- Digestive Issues
- Low motivation and more….
Many First Responders have some sort of Athletic Ability
A lot First Responders have some sort of an athletic or active lifestyle background.
Many start on the job with a solid base knowledge of nutrition and exercise for stress relief. They thought they had it in the bag.
It’s hard to admit, being a personal trainer and nutrition coach to athletes and high level executives my whole career. I thought it would be easy to help my Police Officer husband adopt healthy lifestyle changes into his crazy shift work schedule. Even with all of the unknowns thrown at him each and every shift.
Boy was I wrong.
And as many of the Elite First Responders in my 911 Elite Performance program realize, most of the information out there is for those with a regular scheduled 8 hour day job without all of those added unknowns.
In all of my courses and certifications over the past 25 years not once were there lessons on eating and working out on a shift work schedule. Especially when your stress management system is already taxed.
And this is the key piece of the puzzle we have all been missing…
When your stress management system is taxed to its maximum level or beyond, healthy lifestyle habits are not enough to keep you from experiencing sleep issues, exhaustion, short fuse, digestive issues, constant colds, flues, allergies, injuries and even burnout…
These symptoms do not mean they have a mental health issue.
What is happening is that your stress management system needs support.
And once it’s strong again, you can start to incorporate healthy habits back into your life. Your sleep gets back on track and your energy and motivation returns.
This time in order to keep your stress management system strong, you adapt everything to your life of shift work and all of the unknowns. Instead of going back to the way you used to do things based on a mon to fri 9-5 less stressed life.
You need to train like a professional athlete.
The only difference is that instead of peaking for the playoffs, you are training to peak during crisis. And the goal is to recover quickly after and have more energy left for your family.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
Andi Clark is a mom, wife of a Police Officer and the founder of 911 Lifestyle. Also known as The Elite Trainer for Police and First Responders, Andi is an expert in peak performance and how stress physically affects your body.
The one that’s listed in the blog doc is:
Andi Clark is a mom, wife of a Police Officer and the founder of 911 Lifestyle.
Andi has a background in athletics including a 25+yr career as a personal trainer, nutrition and mindset coach to athletes and stressed out high end executives.
Being healthy and active was what she lived for. Until her body started waking absolutely exhausted, workouts become something to push through instead of enjoy. A short fuse crept in, motivation left and injuries seemed to be a part of life. All of this added up to the point that she had to stop all activity altogether.
Doctors, specialists and prescriptions were never able to fix the problem.
Once Andi realized she had a genetic stress condition that puts her body into an increased stress response state all the time (similar to what Police Officers and First Responders experience when they put on their uniform and have to mentally prepare for whatever may happen in their day) was she able to figure out what was happening and how to reverse it.
Through years of research and studying, Andi formulated a completely different way to thrive when your body is always functioning at higher than usual stress levels. One where it is possible to reverse and prevent an officer from getting to a point where they struggle to get through their days by taking a preventative approach instead of a reactive one. And one that reduces the negative effects of shift work on the body.
Through her husbands career as an officer her focus has been on preventing burnout, exhaustion and a tanked immune system that she knew can result from high levels of stress that are out of your control.
As she watched his co-workers struggle with everything from sleep, exhaustion and anger leading to divorce, PTSD and even suicide it became apparent how LIFE-SAVING the foundations she was laying down for her husband actually were, because not only was he tolerating the shiftwork lifestyle, he was thriving in it.
Andi created 911 Lifestyle once she realized the strategies her husband was using MUST become available to all Police Officers and First Responders so they can peak during crisis, recover quickly after, have energy left over for their families and become the Elite First Responders that they were born to be.