Stress Management for Security Professionals
Stress Management for Security Professionals
If we could sum up the last two years into one word, I think most of us can agree,
that word would be “stressful.”
While the pandemic has been the root cause of a lot of stress, for some, COVID-19 just amplified what was already there. Everyone can agree that we live in very stressful times, and this can negatively affect our health and the health of those around us. Understanding stress management and how it affects us are the tools needed to navigate the constant squalls of turmoil and bitterness that we face.
Prolonged exposure to situations that cause anxiety and tension can create changes in behavior, appearance or even identity. A quick refresher on how stress affects you. You, or your environment may sometimes generate stressful situations which can cause a negative-emotional response. When you understand how stress works, the answer on how to fix it seems simple, but there are a few hidden details that many people don’t know about.
The side effects of stress and hypertension are fairly obvious and can lead to serious health problems (high-blood pressure, headaches, anger issues, lower immune response, heart attacks, etc.). But what you may not know is that the neural net in your brain has a tremendous influence on how quickly we become stressed out.
We all know someone or have heard stories about people who lose their cool over seemingly minute issues. This is because these individuals have brains and cells that have become addicted to a few select emotions. Emotions are triggered by either memory or things that happen around us.
There are over 25 emotions that we can feel at any given time but let’s focus on one that really causes stress in the workplace, anger. The hypothalamus in our brains is basically a tiny factory that assembles chemicals (peptides) to match our emotional state. Each emotion has its own sequence of peptides this factory can create. These sequences are released into the bloodstream where they dock to every cell in our bodies. Now our cells have thousands of receptors, and emotional peptides fit into these receptors just like a lock and key. Long story short, the more we feel a certain emotion the more our cells create receptors for that particular emotional peptide.
Now here is the scary part ...
When the cells divide, as all cells do, it creates peptide receptors for ONLY that emotion. Put simply, if you feel angry all the time it is because your cells aren’t receptive to anything other than that one emotion. It’s hard to be happy if every cell in your being is addicted to being angry.
I know what you may be asking: “Well how do I fix it?”
A good question and it comes with a simple answer:
It starts with situational awareness.
Recognizing that you are stressed, angry or feeling some type of negative emotion.
Once you realize this it is easy to take a step back, assessing the situation, and determining how emotionally involved you should be to the issue at hand. Doing things to minimize your stress is a good start but maintaining it requires effort. There is no self-defense against emotions, but self-defense is a great way to reduce stress and rewire the body. One martial art that works best is Tai-Chi.
The late Captain Jack was a practitioner of Tai-Chi and found it to be a great way to relieve stress.
The pace of this martial art is extremely slow and forces you to work on internal energy and calming the mind. Understandably, not everyone has the time or drive to do a few “paragraphs” (movements) of Tai-Chi.
Fortunately, there are other ways to hit the restart button. Slow-deep breathing is an outstanding way to cancel negative emotions and rewire your brain. Changing your day-to-day routine can also help; daily exercise, eating healthy and avoiding things you know make you upset or feel stress. Taking a day to yourself has a profound effect on changing your emotional character. This is imperative if you wish to avoid taking your stress home with you to your family.
Good mental health is imperative for first responders, especially armed security. When put in a situation that can go south in a matter of seconds, it’s best if the officer has a calm and clear mind and is not easily swayed by negative emotions.
Here at GPF we have ways to help our security professionals prioritize their tasks while on the job. They are broken down into four Quadrants:
Quadrant 1 - Urgent
Quadrant 2 – Important
Quadrant 3 – Urgent but not important
Quadrant 4 – Not urgent and not important.
A good example of Quadrant 1 would be a fire or an active shooter on site, while an example Quadrant 4 might be a RCI walking through the property without stopping. This system can be used both on and off the clock. If you wish to mitigate stress and take control of your emotions, a fantastic way is to find the things in your life that are not urgent or important and let them go.
Such things could be vices, TV shows or social media, or even individuals who are causing you mental harm. In any case, every individual is responsible for their own stress management and there are plenty of options available. It all starts with a desire to change.