Resilience. Noun – “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulty; toughness.” (Oxford Dictionary). Our industry is marked by our ability to overcome issues of all shapes and sizes. From dealing with irate principals to moving off the X, protectors pride ourselves in our skills to manage and deal with risk at all levels. But what about stress to ourselves or our colleagues?
Science of Stress – A Primer
Doctor Hans Seyle’s coined the term “stress” in 1976 citing a “nonspecific response by the body to any demand made upon it.” (Psychological Concepts, 2020). Through his observation and research, Seyle’s indicated there were two types of stress; distress (bad) and eustress (good), and observed states of stress that included alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
Scientifically, we know the body manages and deals with stress from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). It exists as a complex relationship between our brains and kidney. In other words, HPA is our body’s “central response system.” (Meloncelli, 2020).
This system can become overtaxed when we have extended stays in those stages of alarms and, over time, could have chronic effects. From relationship or financial issues to high-pressure careers, long-term distress will take its toll, both physically and mentally in the form of a reduced immune system, inability to sleep, or high blood pressure (to name a few) (Cindy Williams, 2021). All of this adds up to your brain and body being diminished in its ability to manage and deal with risk.
Our rhythm and routines continue to be affected by the show that is 2020. These are unprecedented times for protectors who struggle to remain relevant in the now while preparing for what lies ahead in terms of the new working landscape. We are used to being in our routines of travel and protective work and now many find our regularity challenged with the doldrums when we are not out there and moving. Those who are out there, are doing so in an entirely new manner in order to mitigate pandemic issues along with the regular risks.
In the small (quiet) moments, things can feel like they are stacking up. Cabin fever, bills coming due, close quarters, video conference fatigue, etc. The list of issues that are tapping us on the shoulder to get some face time can seem insurmountable. The good news – we can deal with it.
“Be Kind Always, For Everyone You Meet Is Fighting A Battle You Know Nothing About.” – John Watson
Protecting the Protectors
Countering stress is not insurmountable, but it does require we get off our own X. Harvard Medical School suggests three areas to help counter issues with chronic stress (Harvard Medical School, 2020):
- Relaxation Response – Breathing, mediation, and general mindfulness.
- Physical Activity – Moving. Lifting. Being up-and-away from the screen or the chair.
- Social Support – Your relations. Your squad. Your crew. Check on them and ensure you are actively listening and asking, “how are you?” in a meaningful manner.
It is not a weakness to admit you are stressed, it is human. Finding help can feel impossible, but it is there. Take a walk, talk to your significant other, or a good friend, and check in on your colleagues because no one understands their plight better than you. If you find someone has gone very dark – get them help.
As an industry, we are in this together. In that, we are stronger.
Be Good. Be Kind. Be Grateful. Be Ready. Be Resilient.