While the holidays are a joyful time, they can also be a stressful time.
For anyone in law enforcement, holiday stress is amplified by any number of factors including, but not limited to, working overtime/off-duty, working on holidays, dealing with larger crowds, spending more time away from home and of course, the regular stressors that occur in the day-to-day of policing.
You can’t always cut back hours, get your holiday shift covered, or make your job less stressful, but there are a few things you can do to help mitigate some of the extra stress that accompanies the holiday season.
Accept The Struggle
Recognizing that this time of year is particularly difficult is half the battle. Communicate with your loved ones about any extra stress the holiday season may add to your plate, and remember that you don’t have to go through it alone.
Communicate Your Holiday Schedule Ahead of Time
It’s the togetherness that counts, not the actual day. Tell your family and friends about your holiday work schedule and plan to do your festivities on a different day if necessary. Do your best to plan ahead so everyone knows what to expect. Also, be realistic about your schedule. Try not to over-commit yourself to gatherings, either in case your shift runs long or you’re just too tired or stressed to be social. You can always show up unexpectedly and be the pleasant surprise.
Create Family Traditions That Are Non-Date Specific
Maybe it’s an annual holiday party or family gathering preceding Christmas (that’s scheduled AFTER you know your holiday hours) or a series of celebrations leading up to the holiday. Incorporating traditions like this can take the emphasis off “the day of” and create just as much holiday fun and togetherness, if not more!
Take Care of Yourself!
Remember to take care of yourself, get enough sleep and maintain your exercise routine to help mitigate the extra dose of stress the holiday season may bring. Getting out of your routine can lead to poorer sleep quality and increased stress during an already stressful time.
This holiday season, remember to plan ahead, create new traditions, take care of yourself, have a good time, and most importantly - stay safe out there!
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