Webinar Notes: Staying Strong in a Challenging Environment

Staying Strong in a Challenging Environment with Amy Morgan

 

Overview (00:21)

  • Meaning and sources of officer strength
  • Effects of challenging environment can have on one's health
  • Building and maintaining resilience

 

Resource Speaker (00:32)

  • Amy Morgan, MSC

    • Director of Academy Hour
    • Provides courses for professional corporations, law enforcement, and first responder teams
    • Earning a Doctorate of Education degree with a specialization in curriculum and teaching, holds a
    • Master's degree in Counseling, and a Bachelor's of Science in Behavioral Sciences;
    • Served for 3 years as the Training Officer for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI)

 

The Justice Clearinghouse (01:09)

  • Peer-to-peer educational program/resource for justice professionals
  • Conducts year-round virtual conference on justice related topics
  • Events are free-to-attend, with subscribers having 24/7 access to recorded webinars and eligible for certifications which may be used for continuing education credits.
  • Interactive webinars with quick polls, Q&A, and survey

 

Training Course Outline (03:16)

  • What is strength?
  • General well-being self-assessment
  • Holistic approach: focusing on mental, emotional, physical
  • Factors that weaken health
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Challenges facing law enforcement, dispatchers, firefighters, EMS, ER staff
  • Ethics and Cognitive Dissonance
  • Anxiety, stress, burnout
  • Holmes / Rahe Stress Scale
  • Prevention and treatment of health problems – staying strong
  • Thinking your way to health using your neurotransmitters

 

What is strength? (4:14)

  • Dictionary definitions

    • The quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor
    • Mental power, force or vigor
    • Moral power, firmness or courage.
    • Power by reason of influence, authority, resources, number
    • Effective force, potency, or cogency, as of inducements or arguments:
    • Power of resisting force, strain, wear, etc
    • Vigor of action, language, feeling, etc.
    • The effective or essential properties, characteristic of a beverage, chemical, or the like
    • A particular proportion or concentration of these properties: intensity, as of light, color, sound, flavor, or odor
    • Something or someone that gives one strength or is a source of power or encouragement; sustenance
    • Power to rise or remain firm in prices

 

Self-Assessment (05:51)

  • Activity: Questions on a rating of scale of 1-5, where 5 is positive and 1 is negative

    • I would rate my regular daily energy level is…
    • I feel that my overall sense of well-being is…
    • I feel that my resistance to illness and stress is…
    • I feel that my current physical condition/health is…
    • I feel that my level of self-motivation and follow through is…
    • I would rank my self-esteem as…
    • I feel this way about my current social situation (friendships, support network, relationships) overall:
    • This is how I feel about my ability to handle stressful situations, pressure or deadlines
    • When things don’t go my way, this is how I would rate my current reactions and feelings
    • I feel the current level of peace and contentedness in my life is ranked at

 

Types/Aspects of Health (09:25)

  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Social

    • Good relationships
    • Socially supportive network
  • Spiritual

    • Faith
    • Values
    • Beliefs
    • Principles
    • Morals
  • Financial

    • Security
  • Environmental

    • Home
    • Physical surroundings
  • Occupational

    • Safety in the workplace
    • Prevention of illness and injuries in relation to work
  • Cultural

    • Acceptance based on cultural background
  • Intellectual

    • Ability to be creative
    • Handling mentally stimulating activities
    • Taking new knowledge and skills
    • Learning Potential
  • Relational

    • Marriage
    • Siblings
    • Parents
    • Kids

 

Health is: (13:36)

  • Strength
  • Alertness
  • Resilience
  • Quick thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Managing emotions
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Responsiveness

 

Holistic approach: focusing on mental, emotional, physical (14:12)

  • Theory: Your physical, mental and emotional health are all connected to each other and also affect each other.

    • Considering the whole picture instead of the parts separately
    • SAFETY in the middle of the health Venn diagram, as these three components determine your safety
  • Emotional Health

    • In control of actions, emotions & behavior
    • Able to handle life’s challenges
    • Able to build & maintain strong relationships

      • Contributing to community
    • Able to quickly recover from setbacks

      • Flexible and adaptable to move forward
    • Presents itself through depression, anxiety, addiction, poor anger management, etc.
  • Mental Health

    • Able to cope with normal stressors of life
    • Able to make a contribution to the community
    • Able to think clearly and make decisions

      • Quick thinking
    • Able to perform daily life tasks and care for yourself
    • Able to problem-solve and adapt to change

      • Thinking out of the box
      • Discernment
      • Resourcefulness
      • Good memory
    • Poor mental health can result in a disability, making someone unable to function well

      • Mental disorders
  • Physical Health

    • Absence of illness
    • Good vitals
    • Resistance to illness/disease
    • Fast recovery from illness
    • Will have healthy heart, lungs and digestion
    • Physical strength
    • Good sleep patterns
    • Factors include a healthy diet and exercise
    • Free from addictions (drugs, alcohol, tobacco)
  • Self-assessment

    • Rate your own health in each area on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is positive and 1 is negative

      • Mental Health
      • Emotional Health
      • Physical Health

 

Factors that weaken health (19:31)

  • How are the three areas weakened?

    • Emotional Health

      • Struggling relationships
      • Too many life challenges at once, or difficult life challenges
      • No recovery time between setbacks
      • Outside elements – anything that could be a source of depression, anxiety, or anger
    • Mental Health

      • Genetics (heredity)
      • Brain injury or damage / Infections
      • Substance abuse
      • Toxins, poor nutrition
      • Trauma or neglect / Loss
      • Change (significant)
      • Struggle (poverty, inadequacy, etc.)
    • Physical Health

      • Stress / Anxiety / Depression
      • Illness or disease
      • Abuse
      • Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of sleep
      • Alcohol, smoking, other drugs
  • Other factors

    • Sleep Deprivation

      • Weakened body
      • Decreased performance and alertness
      • Memory and cognitive impairment
      • Stress on relationships
      • Poor quality of life
      • Occupational injury
      • Automobile injury
      • Medical illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity
      • Mental illnesses such as depression, mood disorders
    • Trauma

      • Different manifestation of trauma between people
      • Incidents that cause trauma

        • Feared for life or safety
        • Watched or heard about such an incident
        • Had a close relationship with someone involved
        • Shocking or unexpected
        • Against social expectations (murder, rape, etc.)
        • Any situation faced that causes a distressing, dramatic or profound change or disruption in physical or psychological function

          • Bullying
          • Harassment
      • Short-term crisis or trauma reactions

        • Insomnia
        • Anxiousness
        • Agitation
      • Long-term crisis or trauma reactions (PTSD)

        • Overwhelming fear
        • Sense of loss of personal control over the environment
        • Memory or stimuli may trigger the same emotional reaction felt during the incident
      • Reactions following trauma

        • Shock
        • Denial
        • Anger
        • Rage
        • Sadness
        • Confusion
        • Terror
        • Shame
        • Humiliation
        • Sorrow
        • Suicidal or homicidal ideation
        • Restlessness
        • Fatigue
        • Frustration
        • Fear
        • Guilt
        • Blame
        • Grief
        • Sleep disturbance
        • Eating disturbance
        • Muscle tremors
        • Reactive depression
        • Nightmares
        • Profuse sweating episodes
        • Heart palpitations
        • Vomiting
        • Diarrhea
        • Hypervigilance
        • Paranoia
        • Phobic reaction
        • Problems with concentration or anxiety
        • Flashbacks and mental images of traumatic events and startle responses

 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (25:15)

  • Developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943

    • Physiological needs
    • Safety needs
    • Belongingness and love needs
    • Esteem needs
    • Self-actualization
  • In giving careers like law enforcement, belongingness and love needs and esteem needs are impacted negatively.
  • Suggestions to work on your needs

    • Improve mental health by participating in activities where you’re learning, improving your ability, testing your knowledge and skills
    • Improve emotional health through

      • Counselling
      • Friendships that provide you support and alleviates anxiety
      • Work on balancing your emotions
    • Improve physical health by

      • Eating right
      • Exercising
      • Drinking water
      • Getting sleep
  • Stressors as books we carry

 

Challenges (27:49)

  • Stressors as books we carry
  • What are challenges?

    • Challenges facing law enforcement, dispatchers, firefighters, EMS, ER staff

      • Trauma – first-hand and vicarious
      • Potential for terrorist incidents
      • Body-worn camera scrutiny
      • Civil unrest
      • Public push toward criminal prosecution of officers
      • Social media / public bullying & criticism
      • Life-threatening work on a regular basis
      • Lack of support

        • Work
        • Spouse/family members
        • General public

 

Ethics and Cognitive Dissonance (32:08)

  • Cognitive Dissonance

    • Mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
    • Leon Festinger's theory focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it.
  • How do you make your choices?

    • Do you think about the consequences first?
    • Do you think about whether someone will or will not know what you’re doing?
    • Are your choices spiritually or values based?
    • How strong would you rate your conscience?
    • If you do something you feel is wrong, how long does it bother you?
  • Cognitive Dissonance and Rationalization

    • When people's actions differ from their morals/ values /beliefs, they begin to rationalize both to protect themselves from a painful contradiction and to build-up protection against accusations.
    • The bigger the dissonance, the larger the rationalization, and the longer it lasts, the more stress it causes
  • Ethics and your health

    • What do you think are some emotional or psychological consequences for participating in
    •  behavior you feel is unethical?

      • Guilt/Shame
      • Stress/Worry

 

Anxiety, stress, burnout (35:25)

  • Progression

    • Anxiety leads to stress
    • Stress leads to burnout
  • Preventive measure is the best way to deal with anxiety, stress and burnout
  • Anxiety

    • Types

      • Mild/temporary anxiety

        • Exams/Tests
        • Tough decision
        • Car problem
        • Conflicts
      • Continuous

        • Does not go away
        • Gets worse over time
        • Interferes with daily activities
      • Anxiety disorders

        • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

          • Excessive and prolonged anxiety
          • Restlessness
          • Easily fatigued
          • Difficulty concentrating
          • Irritability
          • Sleep problems
        • Panic Disorder

          • Panic attacks
          • Periods of intense fear
          • Sweating
          • Shortness of breath
          • Out of control
        • Social Anxiety Disorder

          • Fear of social situations
          • Fear of public performance
          • Anxious about being with other people
          • Severe worry or consciousness about humiliation or rejection
    • Treatments

      • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
      • Anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants
      • Exposure Therapy
    • Dealing with short-term, situational anxiety

      • Breathe slowly and deeply
      • Stretch your arms as high as possible, and then as far to the side as possible, slowly stretching your muscles
      • Think calming thoughts, imagine yourself in a peaceful place
      • Quick exercise – your body is physically prepared for high energy
  • Stress

    • 1967: Psychiatrists Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe want to study the physiological effect of stress to our body and our health.

      •  Question: Does stress contribute to illness?
    • Definition according to Richard Lazarus

      • A condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
    • Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

      • Life Change Units (LCU) = weighted scores for life events. The higher the score, the more likely illness.

        • Note: Not all stressors are negative.
      • Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale Activity
    • Causes of stress

      • Survival Stress (dangerous situation)
      • Internal Stress (worry, pressure)
      • Environmental Stress (noise, crowding, outside pressure)
      • Fatigue Stress (overwork, fatigue, lack of sleep, no rest)
  • Burnout

    • Result of extended stress
    • Signs

      • Exhaustion
      • Lack of enthusiasm & motivation
      • Feelings of ineffectiveness
      • Frustration
      • Cynicism
      • Feel that everyday at work is a bad day
      • Feel exhausted much of the time
      • Feel no joy or interest in your work
      • Feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities
      • Engage in escapist behaviors, such as excessive drinking
      • Have less patience with others than usual
      • Feel hopeless about life or work
      • Physical pains – chest pain, sleeplessness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath
    • Occupational burnout

      • Police Officers
      • Social Workers
      • Nurses
      • Teachers
      • Physicians
    • Maslach Burnout Inventory, rates elements like

      • Exhaustion
      • Cynicism
      • Ineffectiveness
    • Recovery

      • Discover the cause/why behind the burnout
      • If possible, delegate or eliminate responsibilities
      • Get enough sleep
      • Eat healthy foods
      • Drink plenty of water
      • Get a little bit of exercise, or just move more
      • Take a vacation or a break from stressors
      • Reassess goals, identify values & priorities
    • Resources

      • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
      • 9-1-1
      • Emergency room
      • Physician
      • Family members
      • Friends
      • Clergy
      • Counselor
  • Assess yourself based on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale where you are in the anxiety – stress – burnout plane.

 

Prevention and treatment (55:42)

  • Prevention is the best way to care for yourself.

    • Avoid anxiety by learning to calm yourself
    • Avoid stress by living life with a balance
    • Avoid burnout by knowing when your stress is becoming long-term
  • Neurotransmitters

    • Think positive
    • Neurotransmitters are teachable and trainable to get

      • Train your neurotransmitters to connect
  • Treatment methods

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
    • Meditation
    • Yoga
    • Medication
    • Sleep
    • Healthy lifestyle

 

For questions and clarifications, contact:

AMY MORGAN, MSC

Academy Hour

aademyhour.com

amorgan@academyhour.com

amysmorgan on Linkedin

Additional Resources
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