Jocko on Motivation

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL Commander, author, and podcaster.  His work includes the books Extreme Ownership and Discipline Equals Freedom.  His podcast (jockopodcast.com) also provides a lot of good material that is applicable to life and work.  We will highlight some of his more in-depth work in the coming weeks.

Sometimes we all need a little extra motivation to get out of a rut, to get back in the gym, or to get that to-do list done at work or home.  The following quick videos provide some motivation to put our responsibilities into perspective.

Grieving Process Following a Suicide

While the loss of any friend or loved one is a difficult process, the grief process associated with suicide can be more unique.  Oftentimes, the death is unexpected, which causes many questions from the survivors.  It is important to understand the grieving process and to know what to expect.  It is also important to understand that there are resources out there to help us.

In this article from the Mayo Clinic, they discuss  the following expectations in the aftermath a suicide:

  • Brace for Powerful Emotions
  • Dealing with Stigma
  • Adopt Healthy Coping Strategies
  • Know When to Seek Professional Help
  • Face the Future with a Sense of Peace

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900

Another brief article by the Harvard Medical School Blog does a good job educating us on how to deal with the aftermath of a suicide.

“The grief process is always difficult. But a loss through suicide is like no other, and grieving can be especially complex and traumatic. People coping with this kind of loss often need more support than others, but may get less. Why? Survivors may be reluctant to confide that the death was self-inflicted. And when others know the circumstances of the death, they may feel uncertain about how to offer help.”

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/suicide-survivors-face-grief-questions-challenges-201408127342

We all need to look out for our friends, family, and coworkers.  Too many police officers commit suicide each year.  There are studies that place the number anywhere from 100-300.  While the exact reporting can be difficult to track, it is clear that the number is too high.  We need to change the culture of law enforcement, both sworn and non-sworn, and understand that it is okay for us to check on each other and to seek help for ourselves and others.  The uncomfortable conversations are likely the most important conversations we could have.

Please remember there is help available.

  • The Employee Assistance Program through New Directions is available at 1-800-624-5544.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Other resources such as our police chaplain listings are available using the “Employee Wellness” link on the left side of the main intranet page.

If you need other resources for yourself, a friend, or a coworker, please feel free to contact the Employee Wellness Unit at 816-234-5387 or at EWU@kcpd.org.

Importance of Sleep in Law Enforcement

The man who brings you Today’s Tip from Lexipol, Gordon Graham, has long talked about the importance of sleep, and how sleep impacts our health, wellness, and professional lives.  Please click on the quick Today’s Tip videos below to educate yourself on how sleep impacts our lives in law enforcement:

Update: These links may not work, so if you go to http://www.lexipol.com/todays-tip/, you can search for “sleep” to find these videos.

http://www.oculu.com/im4/im_embed.php?id=1151665707&title=Lack_Of%20Sleep

http://www.oculu.com/im4/im_embed.php?id=1037365901&title=Improve_Your%20Sleep

Some quick takeaways from Gordon Graham on strategies to help combat fatigue:

  1. Practice quiet time or meditation
  2. Reduce the intake of refined sugars and add more complex carbohydrates to your diet
  3. Keep electronics to a minimum in the bedroom
  4. Keep the bedroom cool and dark
  5. If issues are keeping you awake and thinking all night long, write them down in a journal next to your bed to unload them from your mind and allow it to relax
  6. Check your hormone, vitamin, and mineral levels

Sleep and PTSD

Sleep can be a precious commodity for those working within a law enforcement agency.  Many studies have been done on sleep, and the general consensus is that the adult body needs somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep.  Studies have also linked proper sleep to building resiliency from PTSD.  In her studies of PTSD in law enforcement, Karen Lansing finds sleep to be one of the major factors before and after a traumatic event.

The following passage was taken from an interview with Lansing, which can be found at http://www.lexipol.com/news/trauma-on-the-job/:

Lansing sees sleep as the root cause of PTSD for two reasons: First, lack of sleep can increase the chances that officers will make a tactical/perceptual mistake (which, in turn, can change a “normal” incident into a critical one), and second, merely being sleep deprived can reduce an officer’s chances of recovering normally from a traumatic event.

“If you just missed three nights of adequate sleep, you’re in trouble neurologically. Reactions slow down, micro sleep can set in without warning—which is one of the reasons more officers are killed in car collisions on-duty—and you’re less able to pick up on subtle cues,” Lansing says. “Research articulates that if you’re sleep deprived before the traumatic event, you’re more vulnerable to developing PTSD. With that problematic sleep pattern being established as normal, especially for those working graveyard shifts, the brain becomes inoperable in terms of self-maintenance.”

Unfortunately, Lansing says, most law enforcement leaders have little if any awareness of the sleep/PTSD connection. “We have never before had more complications involved in law enforcement than we do now,” she says. “We put officers out there and expect them to do the ‘least worst’ in the course of potentially lethal, rapidly unfolding events. Things can unfold faster than the brain is able to keep up with. We’re pushing officers into very dangerous terrain by not taking the sleep factor into serious account.”

Sleep Disorders in Law Enforcement

One study of 5000 police officers found the following:

  • 40% of officers suffered a sleep disorder (compared to 15-20% for the general population)
  • 34% suffered obstructive sleep apnea
  • 46% reported falling asleep while driving

https://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/officer-safety/stress-fatigue/pages/sleep-disorders.aspx

If you think you are experiencing sleep-related issues, contact your medical professional.  If you have further questions or are in need of resources, please contact the Employee Wellness Unit.

5 Myths on Police Health and Wellness

“Police suicide, job burnout, divorce, PTSD and alcoholism are just a few of the negative outcomes of our profession we are warned about before becoming cops. Yet despite these warnings, such problems still plague members of our profession.”

https://www.policeone.com/health-fitness/articles/420538006-Police-health-and-wellness-5-myths-we-must-bust/

This article briefly highlights the myths from the book  “Armor Your Self: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement.”  These are important reminders on how we can care for ourselves, so that we can better care for others.  The 5 myths that we must bust are:

  1. Bad guys are the No. 1 enemy
  2. You should only focus on physical threats
  3. Physical fitness solves everything
  4. Mental health is for victims
  5. If you succumb to stress or trauma, you shouldn’t ask for help

Check out the article for information on each myth, and if you have questions about the information, please reach out to the Employee Wellness Unit.  We can help connect you with resources for a variety of wellness-related topics to make positive improvements to your personal and professional lives.