FIT@50 \ week 2
Finding this picture earlier I thought about how much better shape I was then than now. Behind my computer the adrenaline returned to re-experience the rush. I still sensed the empty state of exhaustion after having completed an open water swim and a long bike, to only prepare for a long run.
Then I took a deep breath, hit “save” on this document and looked at the picture of me. In that chaotic ocean of nylon, Velcro and carbon fiber—it was just me—alone.
It was okay. I’d been alone (single) about 20 years. I never stressed or caved to the naysayers who delighted in prophesying, “You’ll be old and alone one day, you better settle.”
After nearly two decades, I finally did something I was fearful to even whisper, “God, please bring me a mate.”
Funny thing is, when you have peace you don’t feel alone or when the time comes you’re no longer alone you don’t receive notification emails. You just aren’t anymore.
This week’s FIT@50 isn’t about finding love—it’s more important. It’s about having peace with yourself. Don’t settle – for anything.
Who am I kidding, this Friday series has helped me journal a path from what I thought was important to what I know is important. I’ve enjoyed it and not ready for it to end. Although the name is changing appropriately enough from FITx50 to FIT@50.
I’ll share that when I began the Friday posts my goal was to exercise like a teenager leading up to his prom night. On the big birthday I’d rip open my shirt to expose a 6-pack of carb-free abs (kinda).
What ripped open instead was my heart, and the reality that being fit meant so much more than physical prowess. I’ve been blessed with family, friends and a maturity to embrace the life God’s graced.
This is me out back on my birthday. No big trips, cross-country bike rides, parachuting or bull-fighting. Just a great afternoon before an amazing evening reflecting over the joys and sorrows of 50 years – LIFE.
I’d appreciate you sticking with me, and would love to reach out to you who have wonderful lessons to share for the good of the order. Who knows, maybe once Liliana Hart makes me eat healthy at home I will don a rocking set of rib muscles!
Someone commented this week during a Mardi Gras parade that they enjoyed keeping up with my Friday FITx50 posts. They thought it was funny that I veered away from physical fitness and began focusing on other aspects of being fit.
I have to admit, it wasn’t anything purposeful. Looking back I saw where the transition began, and I think that was the point “fitness” truly began to mean more to me than physical accomplishments.
I do look forward to turning 50 (HINT: March 11) and not because I can bicycle further than when I was 25 or do more pushups than in my 30’s. It’s because I’ve been blessed with almost 50 years of life on this earth.
It really has been an evolution of understanding what being FITx50 really means. And while physical prowess is important, so is developing the whole man turning 50 – the son, the dad, the brother, the friend, the neighbor, the human.
Until next week, here’s to getting your old-school strongman on.
FITx50 \ week 29
Ways to Reinvigorate Your Passion for Policing
Consciously Adopt a Positive Attitude
It can be very difficult to maintain a positive attitude and it is made even harder if you let yourself be negative for long periods of time. To begin the shift from negative to positive, start with being conscious of your self-talk. Start repeating positive comments to yourself several times a day to help drown out negative thinking.
Having a positive attitude not only improves your mood, but it has health benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, a positive attitude can have the following health benefits:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Get Plenty of Exercise
Law enforcement officers must be physically fit for their job performance. While being physically fit is important, exercising is about more than just being fit. Exercise helps to:
- Reduce stress
- Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
- Boost self-esteem
- Improve sleep
- Strengthen your heart
- Increases energy levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Improves muscle tone and strength
- Strengthen and build bones
- Helps reduce body fat
- Makes you look fit and healthy
Set Progressive Goals
Sit down and brainstorm what you really want to achieve in your career, with your family, and in life in general. When brainstorming your goals, speak with your supervisor to get his or her input on your work goals to ensure they align with the department’s vision. In similar fashion, talk with your family members to get their input on your goals.
The outcome of your brainstorming session becomes your target and your primary objectives. Think about your goals in multiple stages and set micro-, midterm-, and long-term goals.
- Micro-goals are goals that you want to accomplish on a daily basis. These should help you accomplish your short-term goals, which ultimately help you achieve your long-term goals. Maybe you want to be promoted at work, so reading recent news articles, applying to college to get an advanced degree, or reading a book about taking the police advancement test would be supporting micro-goals.
- Midterm-goals are usually goals you want to achieve in one month to a year. Define the goal as well as what is to be accomplished. Be specific because general goals without a clear and concise timeframe and outcome are very difficult to achieve.
- Long-term goals usually require about five years to achieve. Again, these goals need to be specific to make sure you work toward them over time and know when you have accomplished them.
Adopting this type of goal-setting strategy is effective because it is the little accomplishments—the micro-goals—that help you build the momentum and self-confidence needed to achieve your short- and long-term goals. As you work toward your goals, be sure to visualize yourself accomplishing each one. A positive attitude will come naturally when you feel that you are on track to reach your goals..
One of the best ways I have found to reduce stress and keep a positive attitude is through meditation. Meditation involves sitting quietly or with calming music for a few minutes a day. As you meditate, let go of the negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts.
I started off with 5 to 10 minutes a day of sitting quietly and reflecting on my life and what I want out of it. I have increased my meditation time to about 30 minutes each morning, which gets me off to a great start. It is amazing how much my attitude has changed and how many positive ideas I have just from meditating very day.
One of the best ways to get started is to find an app on your phone that either plays calming music or features a voice walking you through the process. Whatever method you choose, the key is to get started.
I encourage every police officer to try these techniques. If you find something that works well for you, please comment on this post so we can all learn new strategies for being more positive in our jobs and lives. Such positivity leads to a better work environment, a closer family, and longevity.
About the Author: Matt Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud, criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school, and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years.
NOTE: You know I love the posts by the16percent staff, and this quick message is one of the many truths they share. Let me share with you.
By the16percent on July 26, 2013
Those two words, when it pertains to careers and the workplace, make me cringe. To me, it means complacency and—to a certain degree—laziness.
When friends complain to me about their situation, I often ask, “Why don’t you try something else?” To which I usually get a response similar to, “Because I’ve been doing it for so long” or “Well, I’m used to doing what I do now”.
No matter what the answer turns out to be, the root of it can be pinned to fear. Fear to do something new. Fear to take risks. Fear to get out of a comfort zone. Here’s a newsflash: nearly everything you want is going to be out of your comfort zone.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
It’s amazing how many people are satisfied with having so many “what ifs” in life. Dreams, goals, and aspirations are not just for college undergrads. You need to keep on achieving in your career also.
Keep on setting goals and being the best you can be in the position you currently hold. And if you’re not where you ultimately want to be, take the risks necessary to get there.
You are your own worst critic, and unfortunately, you’re also your own worst obstacle in life. People and circumstances aren’t as big a challenge as the ability of the mind to psyche you out of what you want to do.
So the next time fear rears its ugly head and gets in the way of your success, ask yourself what you’re really afraid of. Is it even a valid fear? And could you live with yourself if you let that fear win?
NOTE: From our friends at CopsAlive.com
Today is PTSD Awareness Day and its time for those of us in law enforcement to learn more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and take a stance on how we will preserve and maintain our mental health and resilience in the face of a very toxic career.
Today’s the day and June is PTSD Awareness Month and we encourage you to learn more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) not only to help yourself but your peers and the family members who need you by visiting the website for the National Center for PTSD which is run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
What are you doing to raise awareness about PTSD in your agency?
They invite you to “Take the STEP and Raise Awareness about PTSD“
- Learn about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Challenge Beliefs
- Explore Options
- Reach Out
Isn’t it time that we in law enforcement take our own step toward understanding this issue and openly talking about it in our roll-calls and other agency meetings. You can download our CopsAlive Roll-Call training guide on PTSD byCLICKING HERE or keep reading to learn about the many resources being made available by the National Center for PTSD.
Rates of PTSD in law enforcement officers vary but one rate of law enforcement duty-related PTSD is estimated at 7-19% according to the Florida State University’s Institute for Family Violence and the Law Enforcement Families Partnership who do training on PTSD for Florida Criminal Justice officers. They provide excellent resources for all agencies on PTSD, violence and Police Officer Domestic Violence on their website CLICK HERE to learn more.
If you want to promote the issue of PTSD awareness within your agency check out what “Special Materials” The National Center for PTSD has created for PTSD Awareness Day:
Frist they invite you to take “10 Steps to Raise PTSD Awareness” and reach out to others.
Those 10 Steps to Raise PTSD Awareness are: 1. Know more about PTSD 2. Challenge your beliefs about treatment 3. Explore the options for those with PTSD 4. Reach out. Make a difference 5. Know the facts 6. Expand your understanding 7. Share PTSD information 8. Meet people who have lived with PTSD 9. Take advantage of technology 10. Keep informed
How many of these could you do in your agency? How many cops to you know that have actually been diagnosed with PTSD? More importantly, how many cops do you know that probably have PTSD or another stress related disorder but are too afraid to lose the jobs to ask for help?
Here is what the National Center for PTSD suggests you can do this month to raise your own awareness and spread the word to your friends, family and agency:
Use this link to their page CLICK HERE
1. Know more about PTSD. Understand common reactions to trauma and when those reactions might be PTSD.
2. Challenge your beliefs about treatment. PTSD treatment can help. There are now effective PTSD treatments that can make a difference in the lives of people with PTSD.
3. Explore the options for those with PTSD. Find out where to get help for PTSD and learn how to choose a therapist. Also see their Self-Help and Coping section to learn about peer support and other coping strategies.
4. Reach out. Make a difference. You can help a family member with PTSD, including assisting a cop or Veteran who needs care. They have support for friends and family too.
5. Know the facts. More than half of US adults will experience at least one trauma in their lifetime. How common is PTSD?. For First Responders and Veterans and other people who have been through violence and abuse, the number is higher.
6. Expand your understanding. Learn about assessment and how to find out if someone has PTSD. Complete a brief checklist or take an online screen to see if a professional evaluation is needed. June 20th was National PTSD Screening Day.
7. Share PTSD information. Share handouts, brochures, or wallet cards about trauma and PTSD.
8. Talk to people who have lived with PTSD. Visit AboutFace, an online gallery dedicated to Veterans talking about how PTSD treatment turned their lives around.
9. Take advantage of technology. Download their PTSD Coach mobile app and treatment companion apps in the National Center for PTSD’s growing collection of mobile offerings.
10. Keep informed. Get the latest information about PTSD. Sign up for their PTSD Monthly Update, or connect to them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The National Center for PTSD also encourages everyone to “Work With Others” and one group then mention is the “Adopt a Newtown Cop Program” specifically created to assist the officers of Newtown Connecticut to deal with their suffering following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. CLICK HERE to learn more about the “Adopt a Newtown Cop Program”
You can find Promotional Materials by Including: Two versions of a PTSD Awareness Flyer A newsletter entry for your in-house newsletter Suggested Social Media posts YouTube Videos CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE to find the materials they have for you to Print and Distribute including: Handouts, Booklets, Brochures, Pocket Cards etc.
You can Listen to, or DOWNLOAD a 27 minute audio podcast on Understanding PTSD by CLICKING HERE
CLICK HERE to learn more about and download their Psychological First Aid (PFA) Manual and App
CLICK HERE to Learn more about Psychological First Aid with PFA Online Videos on YouTube
CLICK HERE to find a PFA online course from the online Learning Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. YOU MUST REGISTER with them to take the course.
If you or someone you know in law enforcement is IN CRISIS or is having trouble with stress or other issues please reach out to SAFE CALL NOW the crisis hotline for first responders at 1-206-459-3020 or visit their website at http://safecallnow.org/
Finally what is the state of the diagnosis of PTSD?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the organization charged with the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that serves as a resource for clinicians, researchers, insurers, and patients has just released their long awaited Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5 (DSM-V) which is the manual used by mental health professionals as a standard used to make diagnoses.
A two page summary of the changes the American Psychiatric Association made in the DSM-V about PTSD is available from the APA website or by CLICKING HERE.
In summary it says that “Compared to DSM-IV, the diagnostic criteria for DSM-5 draw a clearer line when detailing what constitutes a traumatic event.
DSM-5 pays more attention to the behavioral symptoms that accompany PTSD and proposes four distinct diagnostic clusters instead of three. They are described as re-experiencing, avoidance, negative cognitions and mood, and arousal.
Re-experiencing covers spontaneous memories of the traumatic event, recurrent dreams related to it, flashbacks or other intense or prolonged psychological distress. Avoidance refers to distressing memories, thoughts, feelings or external reminders of the event.
Negative cognitions and mood represents myriad feelings, from a persistent and distorted sense of blame of self or others, to estrangement from others or markedly diminished interest in activities, to an inability to remember key aspects of the event.
Finally, arousal is marked by aggressive, reckless or self-destructive behavior, sleep disturbances, hyper-vigilance or related problems. The current manual emphasizes the “flight” aspect associated with PTSD; the criteria of DSM-5 also account for the “fight” reaction often seen”.
There is some debate about PTSD Debate within the U.S. Military and I would suggest Law Enforcement as well that is summarized in their flyer as such:
“Certain military leaders, both active and retired, believe the word “disorder” makes many soldiers who are experiencing PTSD symptoms reluctant to ask for help. They have urged a change to rename the disorder post traumatic stress injury, a description that they say is more in line with the language of troops and would reduce stigma. But others believe it is the military environment that needs to change, not the name of the disorder, so that mental health care is more accessible and soldiers are encouraged to seek it in a timely fashion.
Some attendees at the 2012 APA Annual Meeting, where this was discussed in a session, also questioned whether injury is too imprecise a word for a medical diagnosis”.
Their final ruling was that In the DSM-5, PTSD will continue to be identified as a disorder
CLICK HERE to download a two page summary of the changes the American Psychiatric Association made in the DSM-V about PTSD.
You can read about all the changes in the DSM-V by CLICKING HERE to download a longer Highlight sheet of all the changes including in the definition of PTSD.
There was an excellent article in the Feb 2013 issue of Police Magazine entitled: “Police and PTSD” that you can find by CLICKING HERE.
What are you going to do about the issues of maintaining our mental health in law enforcement?
At CopsAlive we offer training on how to Armor Your Self™ and Armor Your Agency™ against the toxic effects of stress and PTSD. These are long term systems for building Tactical Resiliency for yourself, your family and your agency.
PTSD and other stress related issues severely impact many, many law enforcement professionals and yet we are very slow to learn about taking care of our own. If you want to make a difference where you live and work then this is the time and here are all the resources you need to get started.
Remember: if you or someone you know in law enforcement is IN CRISIS or is having trouble with stress or other issues please reach out to SAFE CALL NOW the crisis hotline for first responders at 1-206-459-3020 or visit their website at http://safecallnow.org/
CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival. We invite you to share your opinions, ask questions and suggest topics for us in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.
At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.
Our “Armor Your Self™: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement” on-site training program is an eight-hour, hands-on, “How to” seminar that helps police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE
The concept of “True Blue Valor™” is where one law enforcement officer has to muster the courage to confront a peer who is slipping both professionally and personally and endangering themselves, their peers and the public. It takes a system of organizational support and professional leadership to support and foster the concept of courage and intervention. We will train your trainers to deliver this program to your agency. To learn more CLICK HERE
Our “Armor Your Agency™: How to Create a Healthy and Supportive Law Enforcement Agency” Program includes critical strategies that you will need to build a system of support and encouragement for a healthy and productive agency. To learn more CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE to read more about The Law Enforcement Survival Institute.
CLICK HERE if you would like to contact us to learn more about training for your organization.
CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. Thank you for reading!