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Welcome to episode 18 of the 911 shift ready podcast. Today we’re diving into how to prevent December burnout now. And yes, this is October and you will find out as we’re diving in that there are things you can be doing now that can prevent you from going further into burnout in December.

December’s a tough month. With operational stressors, the amount of OT that many of you incur working through so many different holidays and call volumes. There’s a lot more drinking. Alcohol involved domestics are rising there’s different health calls as well, that are on the rise for EMS, that it becomes a very stressful month.

And then we’re also adding in all of the social and family commitments that often go hand in hand with December. So there are definitely things you can do starting now that we can be implementing in order to decrease that burden. I mean, what if you could come out of December and go into January, not feeling like you pushed one notch further into burnout.

That would be great. And it’s the, my Canadian roots. That would be great. I mean, and it’s really possible, but you have to start putting some things into place now in order to prevent that end of the year burnout. And that’s what we’re going to be diving in today. This is the first week of October, and we are going to start your strategies now.

You know how December goes, there’s more and more social gatherings. You’re coming home from shift ,and you get a few hours sleep before you have to get up and go to that holiday celebration. There’s way more family commitments. There’s a lot of friend social gatherings. So neighbors are having gatherings. You may be hosting things. Kids have concerts at school. There’s so many different events and you’re also on top figuring out who’s working Christmas or not depends on your station.

I know my husband’s station, they do try to give some off if possible, but their schedule is really set for the year as to who’s working it usually with their old shift schedule, it was one would end up working Christmas day and one would end up working New Year’s. It’s kind of how it used to go just the way their shift rolled out. But they’re on a new shift schedule now so it’s different.

And you’re missing things. You’re missing Santa. Quite often or you’re trying to get home just in time to catch Santa coming or not going to sleep because you just get home for Santa to come. Domestics going up drinking, there’s just suicide. A lot of really tough mental health calls really do happen in December. And they take their toll.

So thing is you’re getting less sleep it’s just is. It’s a part of the job that when you’re working extra hours, working OT, you are getting less sleep. That if your sleep isn’t in check, if you are not actually able to sleep and recover on your days off, or if you have four hours to sleep. If you’re not, your body’s not able to heal and repair during those four hours, you are sleep deprived and you’re waking up with exhaustion, your moods are off. And your focus decreases, decision making decreases, and your potential for PTSD increases.

And the reason that the potential for PTSD increases is that studies are showing that when your stress system, when your nervous system is taxed to a certain point, and it’s not able to heal and repair while you’re sleeping, that it is easier to damage it and there are certain nerve fibers that are damaged more with PTSD. So that’s from my scientific physical side. There’s other reasons where PTSD can hit you, but that is one reason.

So when you are not getting the sleep, when your body is not healing, when the operational stressors are at their highest, that is when a call can have more of a capability of triggering PTSD. And thing is, is there’s also these consequences to your health. So have you ever considered the consequence to your health and safety on the job when you’re saying yes to certain events after only having a few hours of sleep? I mean, it’s tough, even if you want to think of the consequences when you’re stuck feeling that there really isn’t a way to break the tradition.

You may be saying to me. “Yeah, I know it’s hard. It’s hard as heck. But these are family traditions, and I can’t break family traditions of Christmas days on the 25th or Hanukkah.” We have Kwanza all of these different festivities that happen throughout the holidays, depending on your culture. And some of them are pretty solid traditions. You may be feeling that no matter what happens on shift, and what shift you’re working, that you do have to sacrifice your sleep and energy because of the holidays. They’re really built around a civilian’s schedule.

But does that mean that you who works a non-traditional schedule, days and nights, seven days a week, 365 days of a year, should you have to really stick to this calendar a hundred percent? I mean, why do you have to fit into a box? Your job does not fit into a box. A police family’s life does not. I always have a plan B because we don’t fit into the box when it comes to regular schedule.

So why can’t we adapt the holidays to work for you and not against you? I mean, I’m pretty sure that your intention is to make your family happy, but how much fun are the holidays, if you haven’t gotten enough sleep and how does that actually keep you safe on the job when you are working more overtime, when the calls are tougher and how does that affect your health?

There is a saying, my husband and I talk about this all the time. There’s a cost to everything. And so when my husband calls me about picking up an extra shift or like, “Hey, I’ve been asked to do this shift or this might be happening.” We sit and talk about the cost of things. Okay. So what is the cost, if you don’t do this shift? If you say no, there’s a cost in your service, sometimes that could look negatively on you. As well, short staffed, it needs to happen. There may not be any options, and sometimes there are options.

There’s a cost there, but then we look at the cost of your sleep. And what is going on with your recovery and your sleep. Where’s your body at? Sometimes my husband and I’ll be like, okay, well, your body’s strong. We don’t have anything going on at home around that time. I’m on top of everything. Everything’s covered here. Good, fine. That the cost of him being off was less than the cost of him taking that shift. So there’s always a cost to everything and weighing them out.

There are times where I’m like you just work this many days straight. Like, for example, right now, my husband has worked last 15 days straight. He actually brought a sleeping bag tonight because he might finish really 10, 11, 12 o’clock at night, maybe. He went in at six thirty this morning and he knows he starts at four thirty tomorrow. There’s a police funeral tomorrow. And he is logistics, getting everything set up today for it and tomorrow. And he’s been working, preparing for this funeral. So there’s been a cost to the last well, the last week and a half that he has worked with helping with this funeral. There’s absolutely been a cost to it, but the cost totally outweighs everything.

Sorry, I’m just trying not to cry. The cost weighs everything right now. And him being there at work with his team, working on this, making sure that this funeral, this officer is given the best funeral possible and it’s the safe as funeral possible. They have to make sure that everything is safe. And all of these things involved that I am struggling at home. I am exhausted. I have deadlines at work as well. I am delayed in actually getting my program written and out to you guys because of how much I’ve been picking up at home. And there is a cost at home, but that cost does not outweigh at all.

My husband putting in all this time. All the time and these hours into making sure that this officer is given the funeral that he deserves. So there’s a cost to everything. And we need to really think about how that is. So with that going on, we know that Thursday and Fridays technically is supposed to be his shifts. He works planning and logistics. And I’ve been like, “Hey, can you get those days off? You need them. You’ve been working like 18 hour days. You need that time off.” There’s a cost we’ve paid that price. Now, can there be some sort of a payoff on that point as well? Cause we don’t know when the next thing is going to happen.

Your schedules are so unpredictable. So there is always a cost to everything. And the thing is, which is what we’re going to get into next is as a couple, it’s really important for you both to weigh the costs when you’re making so many of the decisions. And when you start doing that around December then that really does take a lot of pressure or you figure out and strategize things for December to make sure that the cost is the least possible. There’s going to be a cost in December. There is but what is the least possible?

So today we are, as I just mentioned going to go through some strategies that I teach in my 911 Elite Performance Program as well as strategies that my husband and I implement around the holidays, around December. We start implementing them now in October, so that December is as stress free as possible. It’s not going to be stress free completely, but as stress free as possible so that my husband doesn’t go into the New Year, burnt out.

So the first thing is, is getting your spouse to understand how holidays can put you into burnout and then to work together, to help decrease the burnout risk to you and to them as well. Cause there’s a risk to them of burnout as well. So the thing is, is that I work in burnout. I’ve been in burnout. I understand what it feels like, but your spouse may not. They may be in burnout and feeling the same. So we can’t assume first off that your spouse understands what it’s like, I’ve worked shifts before, what it is like to get home at seven in the morning and try to sleep with all of the outside sounds going on, with everything that’s happening, with the family guilt of knowing that the spouse is picking up all of the duties. If you have young kids, especially, there’s a guilt to that too, while you’re sleeping.

And that is something that I do know that many responders do not speak of with their spouses. So talking about that, talking about understanding about scheduling things. I mean, some of you do it to yourselves as well, where you book dental appointments or doctor’s appointments and all of this on what you say is your day off, but it’s your first day off after nights that you only got home or of a 24 hour shift, you only got home at seven in the morning and you haven’t slept.

So making sure that sleep is your priority in order to make sure that you are as calm for your family, that you have energy for your family, that you’re strong for your family is hugely important. And having that conversation with your spouse is very, very important.

So first off is making sure that you and your spouse have a conversation about December. If they understand, they may not know the increases in calls, they might not know that calls do increase around December. Many spouses don’t know this unless you’ve told them. They may not remember or realize that over time often happens. They do know that you work on holidays, unless this is your first year together. They may not know these things really important. And this doesn’t also have to be your spouse. It can be your family as well.

Because when they don’t understand, then they start making different decisions. So for example, as well, I know when my husband and I first got married, I emailed one of my in-laws and I said, “Hey, you know, Christmas is coming up.” This was like, beginning of November, “Christmas is coming up. These are the weekends we have available or works for you?” And they blasted me. Absolutely blasted me because I didn’t make it clear in this message to them that he works three out of the five weekends. These are the only two weekends he has off in December and we’re giving you first choice.” I wasn’t clear with that and they didn’t know that they blasted me saying that I was giving them last choices and I wasn’t making them a priority and all of these things, because the holidays are a huge priority to them, which I actually was doing.

So these are things that your family may not understand. It’s your world, you know what your world is like, they don’t. They have no idea what you’re working when you’re working. The pressures that are on you, especially in December that quite often, when they’re asking things of you, they don’t know how that affects you. So having that conversation with them is hugely important because if you don’t, they are going to put more pressures on you. If they don’t understand, they’re not going to realize why you’re not going to certain events. They may not realize why you are exhausted and not engaging with people when you’re there.

They may not realize that they’re even pressuring you. And a lot of them don’t want to do that. So it’s really important to make sure that you have this conversation, not only with your spouse, but with family that you will be making holiday plans with. So the first thing as we said is to get your spouse on board. Now, the quickest and easiest way to do that is honestly to get them to listen to this podcast episode so that they can start understanding what the holidays are like for you and to you and working through the strategies that I’ll be going through today, you guys can talk through them and figure out what works for you, what doesn’t.

If they’re even open to it, I would highly recommend them going through episode 11 as well. Where we talk about thinking exhaustion is the key to falling asleep, where we dive into how important sleep is for you staying safe on the job. They may not understand that. They may not know it. It’s really not common knowledge to understand how your sleep or lack of sleep affects your safety on the job, your ability to make decisions and your moods.

So letting them go through that first and then once they’ve listened, sit down and make a list of all the commitments that you usually have in December. Which family members do you usually visit? When do you guys usually visit Santa? Do you have friends? Do you host something for friends or neighbors like on an annual basis? And adding your shift schedule. Put in what your shift schedule is for that and make note that you are most likely going to have some overtime in there.

So really get a good view of a calendar of your schedule and what events and commitments you typically do have in December. Navigating the holidays without a strategy is really like for police where you have a warrant for an arrest, but you don’t do any recon. You don’t really plan ahead of time, so you don’t know the safest and most effective ways to serve that warrant in order to keep you and everyone safe around you and for fire when you are not strategizing. And you’re not working with your team to figure out which role each person plays for you to get your truck set up on scene, to connect your water, get everything that you guys need.

Then it ends up being chaotic. And that could be the matter of life or death. And with EMS, you and your partner need to understand who’s doing what, how to work together on a scene, how to communicate effectively with each other and efficiently in order to give a patient the best care and to keep both you and your partner safe on the job.

There’s so many things that are in play. And the thing is, is how successful would any of you be if you didn’t plan ahead of time when everyone knew what was expected of you? So we know that you need to go to a fire and set up your truck. And if you don’t know how to do that, then how successful are you going to be on scene? And there’s so much collateral damage.

Well, the same thing happens for us planning with our spouse. If we just expect that our spouse is going to know what to do, if we expect that family members are just going to know what to do then they’re going based off of their knowledge base and what they know.

And it’s usually very different than what the reality is for you. And it becomes so disconnected and that’s where a lot of confusion and burnout and struggles can happen over the holidays. So when you don’t sit and talk with your partner over the holidays and figure out how to navigate them as a team, then you’re really setting yourself up for mistakes to be made and casualties to occur. Which leads us into strategy number two, or step two, when you’re going over that list with your spouse where you have your shifts and your list of all the things that you feel may the different commitments for December to help you look at your list from a certain perspective.

So strategy, number two as we said, December is often a full month at work and at home. And so with this strategy, we’re going to help to make things as simple as possible and less overwhelming. And that is where we have to dial in and figure out what really is the priority. The problem is that when we say yes to everything. And we say yes to every family invite, we say yes to everything that is asked of us over the holidays at work and at home. And when you’re coming off a night shift and you have to be up really early for days or you’re at the end of a 24 hour shift. Where you may have gotten little to no sleep then it’s important for you to consider what you’re saying yes to after that.

And every year, is definitely going to be different, but there have been years when my husband has ended up with like back to back to back overtime days where there wasn’t even enough time for him to sleep without any commitments. But then there’s that pull where you don’t want to disappoint whoever’s inviting you to a holiday gathering or saying no to an extra shift. Knowing that you’re short staffed, knowing that others are burnt out and that one last responder on a shift can really make a difference and it’s real.

So we did talk about the cost of things, but the other way to look at this that really has helped my husband and I in deciding where our priorities should be, is asking ourselves if we say yes to this, what are we saying no to? So quite often, most first responders, instant reactions say yes to everything from the person who is in front of them. The person who is asking it because that is what feels like it’s the priority at that moment. But when you are saying yes to an extra shift, what are you saying no to?

Are you saying no to time with your kids and your spouse? Are you saying no to being energized and ready for your kid’s school concert? Are you saying no to sleep and recovery? Are you saying no to getting some other things done or doing something with your kids that you had already promised them to do? What are you saying no to? Whenever you say yes to something, what are you saying no to? When you’re saying yes to a family function, to going to a holiday event, what are you saying no to? Are you saying no to getting enough sleep to go into shift with enough energy to stay safe?

So, this is just another way of rephrasing that there is a cost to everything. And as I said earlier, there are certain things like right now, yes, my husband working all of these hours that he is working right now are taxing me at home. The kids have not seen their dad probably for more than an hour in the last week, but the cost is worth it. Right now, him saying yes to being there with his team preparing for this funeral means that everything that we can say what he’s saying no to is worth it.

It is honestly worth it right now for him to not see the kids. He’ll make up for it after. It is worth it now for him to not be recovering. So it really is figuring it out because there is no right or wrong. Every single situation is going to be different. I actually have a lesson in my program that’s “Are you cheating on your spouse?” And that is where you actually look at your calendar and all of the things that you are doing, figure out where your priorities.

Is your main priority your family, and your family values and family time? If it is then look at your calendar and figure out is that where all your time’s being spent. Right? And if it’s not then either you need to switch your priorities or you need to figure this out of this cost. Is it worth it? Because you’re not living up to your values. So these are really big things to be thinking of. So we’re going to dial in and just think of this about December, but really take that time and figure out where your priorities are.

And I will give you some other strategies too, to be able to still get in some of these family events that are very, very important to you, but also help think outside the box. So we will get into that. But I would like you to just think right now that think of like a group of kids. And when there’s a group of kids where there’s that one kid, you know, that one kid that tries to do everything right. That does whatever is expected of them. That never complains. That always does what they’re asked. Doesn’t really voice their opinions or thoughts. They just do what they’re told.

One day, that kid explodes. They go off the rails because they didn’t set proper boundaries and they didn’t communicate that something else may work better for them sometimes. Didn’t communicate that maybe there’s another way to strategize and do things and they didn’t offer solutions. So they lose their voice as well. And so when you are saying yes, always to what’s right in front of you without considering it all the cost and how that yes ripple effects on your family, on your health, on your safety for the job and those that are around you then you’re not only setting yourself up for burnout but you can also create expectations in others that are unrealistic and then you often just disappoint others.

When you are saying yes to things, but you’re showing up so exhausted that you can’t participate or enjoy it, they may look down on that as. So before you commit to anything, talk these things through with your spouse. My husband and I sometimes just so that we don’t say yes instantly, we’ll say, I just need to ask my husband. I need to ask my wife. I need to check their calendar. That’s all I’ll say sometimes.

Sometimes I don’t even check with him. I actually just stop and think about it and go, “Yeah.” No, I should not be saying yes to this. And I’ll go back and say, “No, I’m sorry. Like we have stuff going on in our calendar.” Make sure that you either are speaking with your spouse or you’re really stopping and thinking about everything that you’re saying yes to. And what is the cost of the yes and what are you saying no to. What are all of those costs and where do the cost balance out. What is worth it to you? Where does that sit with your values? What answer is best for you to say no to that situation or that opportunity, or to say yes to it. Only, you know and it is really individualist.

So that leads us into the next strategy. Strategy three, which is taking things off of your plate in December. So we’re going to go over some ideas that really decrease stress and help over the holidays with your schedule instead of working against it. And the thing is, is that we often make the mistake that because something has been done a certain way, that it has to stay that way.

So Christmas on the 25th, has to be done that way. Certain festivities in December have to be done that way. And we kind of think that this is just how it’s always been done, it has to be done that way, that it doesn’t hurt to start asking and finding out if that really is how it has to be and working around that. And when you’re not asking and when you are trying to fit in that box, trying to fit into that civilian schedule or these traditions that don’t work with your schedule, that is so outside of the box, then you end up putting yourself deeper burnout, messing up your sleep out even more. Your moods start getting increased.

You actually get into more arguments and fights with your spouse. Your kids end not knowing when they can hang out with you when they can’t, that it actually decreases your relationships with people, puts you further in burnout and decreases your safety on the job. So when you’re working a shift schedule, when you’re working holidays, it’s not possible to always fit in the civilian box.

So some strategies that we use in my family is that we actually celebrate Christmas in October. Now, my family, my parents are snowbirds. I’m in Canada. They fly south to Florida for the winter. So they’re actually not here on Christmas. And we started doing it in October before they went south. And it’s been amazing. The kids absolutely love it. My niece and nephew who are in college university, they were able to make it cause they weren’t doing exams.

We found a weekend in October that my husband was off. We weren’t traveling back and forth with all of that traffic. We weren’t worrying about snow while actually there has been a few years where we’ve had snow.

So we’ve actually made snowmen at the same time as we’re carving pumpkins. My mom decorates the tree with all Halloween decorations. My kids have coined it, Chrismoween, I think. And they love it. They’re already talking about it. They’re like, are we doing Chrismoween this year? Like it they’re so excited about. And it’s awesome cause we don’t have to shop when there’s busy malls for my niece and nephew, for my brother that we do all the shopping, the kids remember who they get the gifts from, cause it’s such a smaller family weekend. It’s not in all the hospital and bustle of everything else, so we do Christmas in October.

Now you don’t have to do it in October, but you can switch it to in December to when you actually have a weekend off. When you’ve had time to recover beforehand. There’s nothing in the rule books that say that we have to celebrate Christmas on the 25th per se, with families or over that like Christmas Eve, Christmas day boxing day.

We have boxing day, the day after Christmas. And those are the three days that usually people cram in all of their family get-togethers and gatherings. But if you can mix them in between November and December now or in October and really spread them out, you are not going to be as burnt out. You’re not going to be as tired. You’re going to be able to enjoy them so much more. The weather will be much better for driving. Which is a Canadian thing seems to always have a huge snowstorm on Christmas day when people are traveling.

So it really does make a difference that at work, my husband quite often will even take a Christmas day shift where somebody who he knows doesn’t have a family that where they actually do celebrate on the 25th and they know that they’re missing out, which leads us to the other part, which is Santa.

Now for any kids, if your kids are listening to this, they’ll be so excited to know, and you will be very excited to know that I’ve recently realized many responders didn’t know that Santa actually has a deal with first responders. And police have challenge coins and you can get them at most police services, police stations. You can get these challenge coins. And whenever Santa sees a challenge coin in a window sill around Christmas, he knows that it actually sends a signal during the night to Santa in the north pole. To tell Santa that that is the night that you are, I’m going to cry. I don’t know why this one always gets me, but that is the night that Santa knows that your mom or dad is not working and that Santa can come. Because Santa would really, really love for the families to be together as much as possible.

So Santa also does this for families that are divorced, separated, where there’s different times where the kids are with you. Santa has made sure that he knows that when that coin is in the window, that that’s the night that Santa gets to come to your house. So we have a special coin that there is the beyond the blue groups. There’s Toronto beyond the blue, Canada beyond the blue, Calgary beyond the blue, just Google search, any of these beyond the blue groups. And in October they have this they’ve been able to set up something with Santa where you can actually get a Santa challenge coin of these police challenge coins.

And Santa will actually send a letter with the challenge coin. For those of you that have never had one before to help understand a bit more about the rules that I just told you now about setting it in your window and Santa coming. So Toronto beyond the blue does that in October as well. So definitely they order an October so that they send them all out. Then I think that Santa’s elves get busy making all of those coins. And sends them out in November to everybody so that you have them and can do it. My kids love this. We have different coins we put out. Sometimes they do choose to put the Santa one out, but sometimes they choose other coins that I have.

So they love it and they think it is the coolest. They’re a bit disappointed this year that Santa’s coming on the 25th when he is coming to every other kids, cause their dad has it off. Instead of coming to our house earlier, cause we’ve had a pretty cool house where Santa gets to come to our house earlier on many, many years.

So that has been phenomenal for our house. And I wasn’t sure if many of you responders listening knew about that. But that has made a big difference. My husband being able to be here celebrate Christmas on one of his days off and Santa gets to come on his day off. And the 25th, if his dad’s working, he makes sure that he is able to then get the sleep to be handled a lot of the calls and things that do happen on Christmas cause that is one of the toughest weekends for working.

So when it does come to shift works and schedules and holidays keeping to the traditional date, it really is like putting that square peg in that ran hole. It can’t happen. It’s not going to happen. And the thing is, is have you ever known a first responder who was able to make it to every single holiday celebration rested in full of energy?

I mean, I don’t and it’s not really going to happen. So as a spouse, I always have a plan B for every single event that we have planned for my husband in case he’s called in. And it’s just a part of the job. It really is a part of the job, so why fight it? Let’s work with it. Have a Christmakkah. You know, Santa has arranged this challenge coin so that it works absolutely around your schedule and really does take a lot of stress off of your plate.

And when we don’t think outside of the box and stick to the ways that things have always been done, we really end up disappointing others. When you can’t make it last minute, or when you show up so exhausted that you really can’t chat, you can’t hang out and enjoy the moment. It would probably be best during those times for you to have stayed in bed and got the sleep and recovery that your body needs and you deserve.

Police families, we don’t have regular schedules. No responder family does. So why should we try to fit into a regular schedule? I mean maybe this year doing this podcast in October, maybe you can plan ahead a little bit. You can celebrate on days that you can show up when you actually are rested and you’re ready and you can celebrate with everyone.

So that leads us to our last strategy that I do have today, which is building up your stress system now so that you can withstand December. The biggest mistake I do see is that quite often, a lot of this doesn’t even just go for responders. This goes from when I was working almost 30 years in personal training and working with clients is that we often tell ourselves, I’ll start those healthy habits, or I’ll start working on, you know, getting out of burnout once this tough time is over. Once I get a break in my shifts. Once I’m on holidays. All of these things, we start telling ourselves it’s like this pause button.

Thing is, is there is no pause button. And with you as well is you need to be able to peak when the shit hits the fan. So, if you are only working on getting healthier when things are calm, how is that going to help and serve you in December when things are crazy? And when the operational stressors are maximized in December. What will happen is your sleep will continue to get worse. Your moods will struggle, staying calm, probably more arguments and fights. There’s a lot more arguments and fights in December as stress increases as sleep decreases.

When the overtime hits there’s tougher calls working in holidays and going to functions, you end up being beyond exhausted and you’re not able to recover. And studies are showing that when you are not recovering, you’re setting yourself up to be hit by PTSD. It doesn’t take really big, deep traumas to always be hit with PTSD. So in knowing that the more that your system has taken a hit, the bigger it is. And the longer you keep pausing, the more apt you are to get there.

And so the thing is, is with that is working on staying strong for the operational stressors. Making sure that you’re strong on nights and days. Working sure that your body knows when to sleep, when to wake, and when you’re sleeping to get into a deep restorative sleep. And to start strengthening your resting system so that you’re not living in your stress system in an anxiety or hypervigilant state.

These are things that we broke down. I broke down all of these steps. How all of these work in episode one, where we’re talking about the vital steps to stay 911 shift strong. So you can dive deeper into that in episode one. And the tools though that I do teach, if you start implementing them now, if you start making sure that your sleep is on track, that your body knows when to sleep, when to wake that you’re healing and repairing in your sleep. That you’re not living in your stress nerve, that your gut is healing, that your body is as strong as it can be for all of the operational stressors. So you can peak when you need to peak, then you will feel so much better in December.

You’ll be going into December strong. And you’ll take a hit in December. Everyone takes a hit. Every responder does take a hit in December, but you’ll come out better than you feel right now. You’re not going to be a hundred percent, but you will be a hundred percent better than you feel right now. If you start implementing these tools and strategies that really do keep you operationally strong.

We often think that January is the time after a hard December where you should get back on the bandwagon, but how much harder will it be to dig yourself out in January versus, getting strong now so that you are strong and ready for the hit that you will take in December?

My husband’s worked ridiculous amounts of OT this year. I mean, I just talked about the last 15 days, but the trucker rally was 33 days straight for him, 18 hour days. And he went right after that into we had two sports teams in the playoffs. He was doing all the emergency management for that, which is crazy hours. 12, 18 hour days. It’s just been amazing how much he has worked. And he keeps telling me that there’s no way, no way that he would still be standing the way that he is. He’d be calm. I mean, crap. He went to the grocery store and his way home from work yesterday, he still had energy to even think about some ways that he could still even help at home.

He took a sleeping bag to work today, cause he’s not going to get enough sleep at all. Even with a sleeping bag at work, he’ll be lucky to get four hours of eyes closed in between his shift tonight and tomorrow. So there’s all of these things that with him, he is right now pulling out all of the tools that he knows that he needs to stay strong.

And with everything operationally being thrown at him, he’s handling it, he’s managing it. Yes, he’s getting tired, but he is so grateful that he knew what tools to take after the trucker rally, after all these oh, he had a lot of things going on after the playoffs. And then we had Caribana here, which is a huge Caribbean festival and there’s usually couple of shootings and stuff during that weekend. He had like all of these plans and operations and emergency management stuff to be doing for these. It was huge but he was still able to recover after those before the last 15 days.

And he knows exactly what tools he needs to pull out in order to recover again after. Like once he has a break after we’ve already been talking about the strategies to get him back in again, I mean, this isn’t our first rodeo operational stressors pop up all the time. Thing is, is that December, we already know they’re going to happen. So isn’t it best to start preparing for them now? Right?

Prepare for it now cause you already know it’s going to happen and you don’t even know. You don’t know if January’s going to be possible at all for you to recover. So taking advantage, doing it when you can, get your stress system as strong as possible so that every single time that these operational stressors do hit do occur, you can stay as strong as possible and recover quickly after. If you really do work on your sleep, your energy and your stress system, you can become this resilient tactical athlete. But if you wait until December, you’re going to be that rundown responder.

The one who is struggling to even get four to six hours sleep on a day off when they have eight hours of sleep because their body doesn’t know which day is up. They don’t know when to sleep, when to wake. Body’s not repairing, it’s breaking down constant injuries. Moods are all over the place. Gut issues, anxiety, hypervigilance, the list goes on. There’s so many different symptoms of that rundown responder and we already know December’s going to take a hit. So if you’re already feeling these symptoms, where are you going to be in December?

All right. Let’s dive through just a recap of everything that we have talked about today. So, number one, is that having your spouse, listening to this podcast episode and episode 11 on sleep and exhaustion to start a conversation about planning for the holidays now will really help to decrease your stress. Making a list of the events that you feel are going to come up in December together, anything that’s in your calendar that you have to tend to shift obligations, put your shift schedule in there and start looking at that schedule.

And then our strategy number two was looking really at the cost of things. So if you’re saying yes to something, what are you saying no to? There is definitely cost to everything. Weighing out the cost of each item on your list. If you say yes, what are you saying no to. And which ones do you feel have to happen? Which costs are you willing to spend?

Which led us into number three, where we’re thinking outside the box. There are certain family events over the holidays in December that do have to happen. There’s certain family get-togethers, there’s friends and families. There’s your shift schedule, but how can you think outside of the box? Santa already has helped you with the challenge coins for that beacon to be sent up to the north pole. You can, I don’t know. Can you move your Christmas day if you’re working on Christmas day with your family? What other solutions can you come up with? What other events and holidays are happening and how can you think out side the box with them? What about Christmoween? My kids love it. It is so much fun.

And that leads us into the last one is starting right now in October to get your stress system supported. And getting as strong as possible for the operational stress that you know is going to be thrown at you in December is really a big, huge key to you preventing and staying out of burnout in December.

So, if you would like to start working on these tools that my husband uses when he had pushed operationally and learn how to recover quickly after, so that you are going into December strong then go to our website. So Go to the work with us page. Now, I’m recording this ahead of time, so I am hoping that our doors are open then for our beta testing of the 911 Elite Performance Program.

The program’s been around since 2018, but I am working really hard behind the scenes to update it. New research a lot has happened in the last three years with COVID with black lives matters with so many different stressors that have changed for you guys.

So I’ve brought a lot of that into the program. Moving it as well from being all written to videos, written option, audio option for every single lesson. This takes time and as I said, there’s a cost to everything. And with my husband working the hours he’s been working, I’m a little behind in that. So that means that when this podcast episode is going out in October, is when I should be launching the beta.

Now the beta is me testing out the text side of the videos, the lessons and everything first. The program is ready to go. It’s the same, well, it’s improved information then we’ve been using since 2018 to be helping first responders stay operationally strong. But we’re going to sell it for a huge discount to a limited number of people while we’re testing it out and that should be happening the week that this podcast is going out.

If you go to our work with us page, you should either see the sales page, which will give you all the information on the program. That means it is for sale only for sale for a couple of days. We’ll sell it for four days only because I close it off in between. So I can really focus on coaching those in the program.

I am an officer’s wife and I can’t focus on everything. So I do make sure that those that are in the program are getting the attention that they do deserve. Remember that there is a cost to everything. There is no right or wrong. Every family’s traditions mean something different to them. Your family may not be okay with moving the days or the times different family dynamics. Figure out what works for you. Think outside of the box and weigh the costs. Where are the costs?

It’s okay. If they’re not willing to budge for you to politely decline, explain why and politely decline if it is something that you feel the cost is not worth it to going. If you do feel that the cost of going through December without your sleep and energy on track, if you are ready to get operationally strong then go to our Click on work with us. The doors are open only for a limited time and we’re only accepting a limited number of people.

So definitely don’t wait. We already have more people on our waitlist than we’re accepting. So Definitely don’t hesitate on that one. The doors may not open again in 2022. We’ll probably only be opening them up early in 2023 again. So don’t miss your opportunity. and go to the work with us page.

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