Take Care of Yourself

Audrey Fraizer

Adam Timm, a former dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD, California, USA) and founder of The Healthy Dispatcher, preaches self-care to continue the job “we love to do.”

At some point, the “strong suck-it-up culture” and caring for others but not so much ourselves have diminishing returns, Timm said. The key to reversal? Imagining life with less stress and acting on the ways to achieve positive thinking and let go of things beyond our control.

Signs of diminishing returns – and signs of overwhelming stress – include both physical and mental symptoms. At the seven-year mark with LAPD emergency communications, Timm noticed headaches, indigestion, and gastric pain (ulcers) and unknown to him, a workplace disposition that earned him the nickname “Angry Adam” behind his back. He signed up for a six-week stress reduction course and in another six months was well on his way to recovering the happier Adam.

At 10 years, he left LAPD to offer resilience training to communication centers nationwide. He advocates a tool chest heavily weighted with establishing an attitude that emergency dispatchers have a choice. “They can draw a line in the sand to prioritize resilience,” he said.

Timm’s tools to achieve a healthier work and life balance:

• Physical activity (tap into the power of exercise)
• Healthy eating (“stressed” is “desserts” spelled backwards)
• Social support (someone working alongside can help)
• “BE” (be in the moment, destress, practice meditation, breathe in/breathe out)

“We all have the opportunity to make a shift,” Timm said. More information about keeping your best is available from The Healthy Dispatcher at http://www.thehealthydispatcher.com/.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audrey Fraizer is Managing Editor of the Journal.

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