A "stress helps" mindset may sound counter-intuitive - especially when the stress you experience is affecting your sleep, your mood, and your relationships. For 911 dispatchers and other mission-critical operators, learning to tame the stress effect is critical for daily health and long-term stability.
PSAP teams can attest to the cyclical highs and lows associated with real-time monitoring. The dramatic swings in emotional engagement, coupled with the critical nature of the response, can make stress-management a challenge. If unchecked the ill-effects of stress can lead to disengagement, increased absenteeism, burnout and churn.
Recognizing the symptoms of stress
The team at the Mayo clinic has put together this basic list of common body, mood, and behavior symptoms associated with elevated stress.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is time to take action.
Healthy dispatch professionals neutralize stress
Neutralizing stress is one way resilient dispatchers bounce-back after taxing calls. In Paula Davis-Lack's Psychology Today article, she shares "...how you perceive stress is just as important as the amount of stress you’re experiencing." It is with this in mind, that she champions a "stress-helps" mindset, her version of the "bounce-back."
Research shows that those who adopted a “stress helps” mindset were more likely to seek out feedback and therefore grow as a result of experiencing stress and had more adaptive cortisol profiles under acute stress
(Crum, Salovey, & Achor, 2013).
The body-mind-emotion connection
The idea of turning stressors into a positive is echoed in the world of business. Here the "stress helps" mindset translates to a "winning mindset." Re-framing the way success and failure are perceived helps professionals maintain momentum even when business is down. Alice Heiman, organization change and business growth professional, shares eleven easy actions that promote healthy brain chemistry for people operating under stress.
Take a walk. It makes you more creative so you can approach your customers’ problems with fresh ideas. In a recent New York Times article, they described how walking in nature changes the brain.
Smile. It makes you and everyone else feel good.
Take a break. It gives mind and body a rest and reset to come back to your work with new intention.
Sing a song. Belt out a tune, sing your favorite songs! You release endorphins when you sing.
Have fun. Need I say more?
Meditate. It has immediate benefits improving your mental, emotional and physical balance. A quick mediation or breath exercise at your desk can do wonders! Try this breathing exercise:
1) Exhale completely, making a whoosh sound.
2) Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose to a mental count of four.
3) Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to the count of eight.
5) Repeat this breath cycle at least three times.
Exercise. You know what to do. Just do it! Utilize the sit-to-stand function on your dispatch workstation to stretch tired muscles and burn a few extra calories.
Be nice. Easier said than done on some days but you can do it.
Help. How can you help someone today? Be conscious and intentional about helping.
Compliment. It’s easy! Do it several times a day.
Take a vacation [or staycation]. It’s imperative for your heart, mind, and health.
Numbers 2, 8, 9, and 10 are easy to add any day and every day!
Share these 11 Surprising Ways to Create a Winning Sales Mindset and watch this TED talk with your team.
Kelly McGonigal, health psychologist, shares How to Make Stress Your Friend.
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