Welcome to episode 20 where we are going to dive into why leaving your job won’t fix the sleep, anxiety, hypervigilance that you may be experiencing right now while you’re currently active on duty.
Now, there are different reasons to leave the job. Right now with the climate against first responders, some of you do not feel safe or the safety of your family is more than you signed up for and leaving the job that many of you always dreamed of doing may the best choice for you.
I mean, last week a paramedic was stabbed to death in New York City. And every week police officers across my feed on social media, there’s police officers ambushed, attacked, murdered. Quite often there’s fire with line of duty deaths but as well as suicides. And we all have to do what is best for us, best for our family.
And I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been times where I’ve wondered what life would be like if my husband was not a police officer. But that’s not what we are gonna be talking about today. What we are going to talk about today are the responders who have been experiencing at least one of the following four to six hours of sleep where it’s a treat.
Exhaustion has hit you really hard. So hard because your sleep is crap, and you’re pushing from the moment that your eyes open until they close again. Quite often leaving you wondering how much longer you can continue to push like this if your sleep does not improve or mood swing.
Mood swings where you can go from calm to anger. They hit out of nowhere, especially at home and they are affecting relationships with spouse and kids. Some may want to be leaving because they’re experiencing that. Some may want to leave because of the anxiety, panic attacks to the point where they know that if something doesn’t change, they may take their life.
We also have responders who may want to be leaving because of hypervigilance. Where they can’t shut it off, they can’t relax especially at home where it’s to the point where they don’t even go out with their family anymore. They’re isolating themselves as much as they possibly can and they’re wondering is this worth it? Is this where I should be with my career?
And then we get into other responders who, from gut issues, they are on revised duties where they can’t be on the road anymore. They need to be in the bathroom all of the time, and they’re booking off days off of work because of how bad their gut is. So we have responders that are wanting to leave because of all of these different signs and symptoms that are related to your stress system.
And it’s no secret that the operational stress of your job, long shifts, working days and nights, over time the admin stressors. Stress from the public that has absolutely increased with social media videos where people can show just pieces of videos and pieces of stories and get them out really fast.
We have toxin exposures to every day toxins, but also as first responders, you are exposed to many other toxins as well. Family stressors and there’s more. The list goes on of all the different operational stressors and stressors that do occur in the life of a first responder. And they do play a huge role in how taxed your stress system is, which does affect your sleep, your energy, your anger, anxiety, hypervigilance, how calm you are.
It can get into health issues with gut, gallbladders. Man, the amount of gallbladders that we have heard in the last few years, has risen. Cholesterol struggles, blood pressure, heart, cancer, autoimmune diseases. There are lots of science studies, lots of data out there that operational stressors do play a part in taxing your stress system.
So it makes total sense that leaving the job and not working shifts anymore, not doing the OT and not having all of these other operational stressors that are specific to your job are the key to you getting your sleep back again, getting back your energy and your moods and your health back on track, right? Or so it would seem.
But if we look or think of your stress system like a car, your career as a first responder is like driving a race car. Pushing your engine hard as it can go each and every race. So for you, each and every shift, you are pushing really hard. And during each race, the driver checks in, they go in for pit stops. And any time that the car needs fuel or maintenance in between races, the cars go for a pit stop and they’re worked on, and then they head back into the race.
And then in between races they are worked on as well in order to make sure that they are in top working order and ready to perform at their best each and every race. So what would happen if that race car, if they didn’t do any maintenance or repair on the car between races? If they really didn’t do the proper maintenance and what was needed on a pit stop, if they only did partially what was needed on a pit stop or didn’t give it the right fuel, didn’t do what was needed as well on shift, that race car it would start slowing down.
The engine would start conking out. The parts would start becoming damaged in their engine more so than they already were with how much they were being taxed. And very quickly that car would be retired. It wouldn’t be able to win any races, no race car driver would even wanna drive it. So the car, let’s just say that they take this car and they move it to the country where it can drive a little slower on the main roads. And it’s never pushed like it was on a race day. There’s less stress being placed on this car, and the car may be function for a while. Sunday driving may suit it well.
But what happens one day when there’s this cute girl and a really nice race car that revs her engine beside you on the road and you know, wants to race you? Right? Nothing like race days. It wouldn’t still even be pushing like race days. But you haven’t done any maintenance or repair on this car since it was retired out and while it was pushing and racing that how is this engine going to perform with that added speed or the added stress required to race this hot chick in this nice car beside you, right?
If we think about it, that’s how our stress system works. Your body can only handle so much stress. And when you take some stress out, you may feel some relief. How much relief does depend on how much taxed your body has been, how taxed it is, how full your stress bucket is, how much have you really pushed your stress engine.
There’s some of you that may go on vacation and after a few days you may feel relaxed, you might sleep well, you might be able to sleep like eight hours and wake up with energy lasting your day. Whereas there may be some of you, I hear where even on vacation where you don’t have the stress of shifts, you don’t have the stress of OT, the admin stress isn’t on top of you and many can’t shut it off.
They can’t turn off their mind and fall asleep. They’re not getting into deep sleeps. They’re still, even after two weeks of vacation, they’re not able to wake up with energy. They’re moody may not have been the best vacation because of the moods and such and irritability and the friction that that causes with the family as well.
So we find that some may be able to recover and some may not, even on a vacation with the stressors of the job taken out. Thing is, is that no matter how relaxed you were able to get on vacation as it does come close to you going back on shift, that’s when you start thinking about work again and sleep starts struggling more again, anxiety and hypervigilance. If it did decrease, starts increasing again.
And once you’re back on the job, you may feel more stressed than you even did before your vacation. And you’re kind of wondering, what’s the point in a vacation if I’m gonna feel worse when I come back? And life happens though, whether you stay on the job or off. So if you have a career working shifts, tons of OT, there’s toxins that are placed on your body that you’re exposed to on the job.
We have lead and camium with police from the guns, from bullets. We have a fire. You guys are exposed to so much, but still, police in EMS is on scene of many fires as well without the protective gear. So all of you are exposed to toxins at a level that is higher. You may be going into houses as well that have higher toxic loads than your own personal house, so you’re exposed to so many as well when you are working night shifts, your body is not able to detox just from regular daily toxin exposure that we all are exposed to.
This is one that I haven’t dove into much yet into this podcast. But if we dive into all of these stressors and I didn’t actually mention as well that how many years you’ve been sleep deprived. So how many years you’ve been on the job, and how many years you’ve been sleep deprived, all of those things have taxed your stress engine. The operational stress of your career, it, it pushes your stress system like that of a Formula One race, car of a nascar. As they would each push their engines in a race and taking the stress off by retiring out early. It will stop putting more stress on your stress system, more stress of the operational stress of your job, but the damage has already been.
Right. Your engine has already been taxed. Some of you may have pushed your stress engines so much that even after retiring, you still can’t shut it off and fall asleep at night. You still can’t get good restorative sleeps. Still on edge, hypervigilant, anxiety’s ruling you, no energy, your gut issues will still continue. All of these things when many of you do retire out, I hear this all the time. Some definitely do feel relief, but not all, or the relief is minimal, not what they had expected.
And then until you actually go in and repair your stress system, just like you would a race cars engine post race then any added stress on your body is going to bring back or increase the stress symptoms that you left the job for to get away from.
Assuming that your stress system will reset itself, that your sleep will get back on track, your body will heal and wake with energy for your day. That the anxiety and hypervigilance that it will ease up so that you can start relaxing at home that the anger will subside. Just because the operational stress is gone you walked away from your career, that’s a big assumption. Especially if it means a decrease in pension, benefits and a cut in your pay. So how bad would it be to leave your job along with the pension, the benefits and the pay grade you are currently at only to find out this belief that you have based your choices on to leave was not the right belief?
What would happen if you reversed the steps and worked on your stress system to strengthen it first? If you worked on getting your sleep back on track, getting your energy back up, calming your anxiety and hypervigilance as well as your anger, even while you’re working as a first responder. And then once your stress system was back and ready for race day, then you decide if you want to stay or leave.
How much more control does that give you over your decision? Gives you a lot. I’ve heard so many stories of guys who have made the decision to leave and then they message me and saying, I’m having panic attacks daily. I’m feeling almost worse. You know, I left my dream job and I thought things were gonna get better and they’re not.
I hear this, I get emails over the years from many that have lived off of this belief. This belief that their stress system would just automatically reset itself once they left the job. It makes sense, but once we start diving into the science and everything behind it and thinking of it like a race car, do you see then how that belief can be flawed?
So how do you then get under the hood of your stress system and heal and repair it for race day? Especially when you are beyond exhausted. When you have zero brain power, when you have no energy at all to put in the work, your brain is so fuzzy that focusing on things is tough. How the heck are you supposed to do that while you’re on shift?
You may be thinking, I’m asking for a unicorn here. And when your shifts demand the same push as a Formula One race car, day in and day out, whereas that Formula One race car gets six days for the engine to be healed and repaired, how the heck do you do that? Well, that’s what I’m gonna lay out for you right now.
The first thing that is a priority is training your resting system. You have spent years, years in your stress system. Every single time you go to a call and pretty much any time you’re going to work, you have to be prepared for whatever may happen. And every time you do that, you are training your stress system.
It is like a muscle. The more that you work it, the faster it gets and quicker it is to react. And then what happens is your resting system, the one that helps you fall asleep, the one that heals and repairs you while you’re sleeping, the resting system that switches you out of a stressed and hypervigilant state when it’s safe to do so, so you can enjoy your family. That one is so overpowered by your stress system.
So this nerve is so strong. Just like in the gym, when you stop working out, you do decrease some of your strengths. And so yes, if you do leave the job, this nerve may decrease in its strengths and reactivity a little bit, but not much that it is paramount that we strengthen the resting nerves. So you can start learning to switch in and out of a stress state.
If we think of it like an electrical wire as well, wires are so conductive like in an electrical wire. I mean, if you stick a metal piece into a socket, you’re gonna get an electrical buzz, right? So we need to be start training the right nerve not the wrong nerve. They’re very, very easy to train when you know how to train them. Just like you train your muscles in the gym.
So these are things that you can be doing while you’re on shift. You can do things while you are on a call that will actually help to train your resting system so you can kick outta that stress system state. There’s things that you do as you’re falling asleep to switch into that resting system. There’s things you do if you wake up in the middle of the night to help that resting system. There are things that you can do that aren’t going to take extra time out of your day to train that resting system so that it is possible for you to do with the amount of hours and everything that you are working.
And if you don’t fix this, when you leave the job, you’re going to still go from zero to a hundred in the blink of an eye. You will still I’m trying to think of how to say this. You’ll still have those anger bursts at your kids for spilling their milk, for asking questions, for doing the smaller things.
You won’t be able to get into a good sleep, even if you’ve done all the things for sleep. You won’t be able to get into a good sleep because that nerve keeps switching you in and switching you out of a sleep state. So your sleep won’t get back on track. You’ll be hypervigilant, the panic attacks, the anxiety, those will all still continue to kick in until you start training it, regardless on if you’re in the job or if you’re out of a job.
And then we get into another thing that we need to start working on as well is resetting your circadian rhythms. How many years have you been on the job? With the amount of years that you’ve been on the job you’re with nights and days, even if you’re working a day shift schedule, it’s not a normal day shift.
You’re up before the sun quite often. And quite often you’re coming home before the suns come down. The hours that you work, the overtime that you work, it’s not a civilian day schedule where you’re going with the sun. So when you have that for years and years, your body then doesn’t know when to sleep and when to wake. And then your body can’t heal and repair either.
So as we spoke of that nerve is very, very beneficial in helping you get into a state where your body knows to sleep. But then your body needs to know what signals to give it to have the right sleep hormones and then all of your healing and repairing and cognitive thinking. All of these other hormones, your testosterone, growth hormone, all of these things start cascading after your sleep hormone naturally kicks in. But when it doesn’t note to naturally kick in then all of these other hormones can’t do their thing. You can’t get into a good sleep. You can’t heal and repair.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve stopped working. If you stop the shift work, if you stop all of the overtime and go to a civilian schedule where you are sleeping and waking with the sun, your body has been so mixed up, it does not know how to go back to that civilian sleep schedule until you know how to teach it.
So if you can learn how to teach your circadian rhythms how to sleep and wake on your shift schedule now, if you do choose to leave the job, you will be further ahead of the game cause you’ll be able to get right on track right away because you already are doing it with a shift work schedule, which is much harder than a civilian schedule.
So if your body instantly knew how to sleep once you were off the job, why do so many first responders struggle with sleep still after retirement? There’s so many of them that are struggling with their sleep, struggling to heal and repair after they have retired. And on vacation, you know, if it was easy as stopping the shifts, if you are on vacation and your body is not able to shift into a regular sleep pattern where you heal and repair and wake up with energy, then why would it be any different when you leave the job, Right?
It can’t. It’s not going to be. And if you retire and leave the job midway or you stay and you continue to have sleep struggles, how is your life going to be if you still are not able to sleep? If you’re still sleep deprived? Studies show with sleep deprivation, you make more mistakes. Your moods are more off.
Statistics go up for suicides with sleep deprivation. Anxiety goes up with sleep deprivation, right? You’re always on edge. You can’t relax. So if you are not able to get your circadian rhythms on track, once you have left the job, how are you going to feel better? How is your energy going to go? How is that going to help you?
So let’s recap on what we did go over today. So just like a race car, your stress system is pushed. It needs help to strengthen and repair it, or it cannot continue to race. The car, it may be able to run off of the track in a leisurely way but as soon as anyone tries to push that engine, the car will struggle to run if it was even able to run off track.
So some of you, that’s where vacation is always a good marker on how your car will kind of run off track on if you can actually unwind on vacation and how much you can go down will help you to see how much going off the job may help you initially. But leaving the job and hoping that all of the damage and everything that you have done is going to heal and repair itself from all of the operational stressors of the job basing it off of assumptions instead of the scientific data and facts that your stress system needs support in order to heal and repair just like an engine does then most responders will still struggle with sleep.
They can’t shut it off. They’re going to continue having low energy angers, mood swings, even after they’ve left the job. So before you decide to stay or leave, get your stress system back on track. Training your resting stress nerve and getting those sleep circadian rhythms back on track so you can heal and repair while you sleep. And you can gain back your energy on your current shift schedule.
If you can do it on your current shift schedule, then man, you’ll have it made if you do choose to leave. But once you are back on track, no pun intended, that’s when you can decide if you want to leave or stay. If you do want to leave, I am working on getting one of my colleagues, somebody that I’ve known. A former officer of 30 years who now works with first responders and works with officers in helping them transition to civilian jobs.
I’m hoping to get him on the podcast. He is a wealth of knowledge in helping you understand how the skills that you have learned in your job are wanted by many corporate and non corporate jobs out in the civilian world. So you definitely do have options if you choose to leave the job, it would just makes more sense that you’re leaving because it was a hundred percent your decision. You knew what you were getting into. You knew where your stress system was. And you were in control of everything when you made that decision.
If you would like to start working on getting your sleep back on track and learning how to turn it off so that you can be calm and relaxed at home and in between calls, I’m here to help tuning up your stress system engine, so that you can sleep, gain back energy and calm the short fuse. It’s what my 911 Elite Performance Program is designed to do. That’s exactly what it does. It’s been running successfully with first responders since 2018. I am currently working behind the scenes, updating the program.
The doors will be opening soon, I hoped by now, but I got a little behind with my husband’s being on a lot of call, so when it does open, it is only going to open for four to five days. And I only do this two to three times a year. So that it does allow me to focus on giving my attention and coaching those in the program because I am a police wife and I never know where my timing’s gonna be, so I make sure that I have the time to give everybody in the program the coaching, the attention that they do deserve.
If you go to my website, 911ShiftReady.com, and you click on the Work with Us page, you can join our wait list where you will be the first one to know when the door’s open. You don’t wanna miss it. As I said, they only open four to five days, two to three times a year.
Now there has been a slight change since the last few episodes, so I was going to sell this new update of the program as a beta for a huge discount to only 10 responders. But my wait list is currently almost triple that. So that wait list when you go onto 911ShiftReady.com and click on work with us, the wait list of people who are waiting to find it when the door’s open is triple that pen.
And I started talking us through with my husband a few days ago and knowing that I won’t be opening the doors again this year, my conscience hasn’t been sitting well with only tapping this beta at 10 people. He has agreed with me that I shouldn’t cap it. Whoever does wanna take advantage of this big discount, they should take it as this will allow me to help more people now and not have you struggle with your sleep, with your energy, with your moods.
And keeping you safer on the job, which is why I do this program. I do it to help you guys, not because of the paycheck. So I am not gonna be capping this at 10 people. Whoever wants this big discount, you’re more than welcome to it. But as I said, we do only open the doors, only open that shopping cart for four to five days.
So that discount is only going to be there for four to five days. If you want to know about it, the first onse to know are on that wait list. So 911ShiftReady.com. Go to the work with us page, sign up there and you’ll get on our wait list where I will let only those on the wait list. Know I’m saying four to five days cause I’m letting the wait list know a day ahead of time that it’s opening and then I’ll open the doors to everybody else the next day.
So if you’re not on that wait list, you’re going to miss out on the first opportunities. All right. Hope that you did enjoy this episode. Any questions that you do have, feel free to email us Support@911Lifestyle.com and I will see you in the next episode.