Discover actionable self-care steps police officers can take to survive mandatory overtime and reduce stress in this informative blog post.
The current shortage of police officers across the United States has led to mandatory overtime for many officers. This added pressure can take a toll on their mental and physical well-being, making it crucial for them to prioritize self-care. This article will explore how police officers can survive mandatory overtime and care for themselves.
The State of America’s Law Enforcement
According to a report by the National Police Foundation, more than 80% of police departments in the United States are experiencing a shortage of officers. This has led to mandatory overtime becoming a common occurrence in many departments. While overtime pay can be helpful financially, the added stress and fatigue can negatively affect officers’ mental and physical health.
Benefits of Self-Care
To cope with mandatory overtime, police officers need to prioritize self-care. Self-care is any activity that promotes physical, emotional, or mental well-being. Here are some of the benefits of self-care:
- Exercise – Regular exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase overall physical health. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that regular exercise improved job satisfaction and quality of life in police officers.
- Healthy diet – Eating healthy can provide the energy and nutrients needed for long shifts. Harvard Health Publishing recommends a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Good sleep – Getting enough sleep is crucial for physical and mental well-being. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that interns who worked extended shifts were likelier to be involved in car accidents due to fatigue.
- Positive mindset – Maintaining a positive mindset can help police officers stay motivated and focused. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that weekly work engagement was positively associated with performance.
- Detachment – Detaching from work can help police officers recharge and reduce stress. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that detachment was associated with better mental health outcomes in police officers.
Actionable Steps of Self-Care
Here are some actionable steps police officers can take to prioritize self-care during mandatory overtime:
- Schedule exercise – Make time for exercise by scheduling it into your day. This could be as simple as taking a walk or doing a quick workout before or after your shift.
- Plan healthy meals – Plan and prep healthy meals ahead of time to ensure you have nutritious options available during long shifts.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment – Create a sleep-friendly environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Set a consistent sleep schedule and avoid using electronic devices before bedtime.
- Focus on the positive – Practice gratitude by focusing on the positive aspects of your job and life. Write down three things you’re grateful for each day.
- Find activities you enjoy – Find activities you enjoy outside of work and make time for them. This could be reading, playing sports, or pursuing a hobby.
- Detach from work – Practice detaching from work by setting boundaries and making time for non-work activities. Try not to check work emails during your time off.
Mandatory overtime can be a challenging time for police officers. However, prioritizing self-care can help them stay healthy and resilient. By incorporating exercise, healthy eating, good sleep habits, a positive mindset, and the ability to detach from work, police officers can survive mandatory overtime and thrive during it. Remember, caring for yourself benefits you and the people you serve and protect.