Helping Law Enforcement Combat Stress

Law and StressWhile the general public as a whole struggles with a variety of life stressors, law enforcement personnel often have more extreme stressors to combat. While local citizens might worry about their career, family, and finances on a regular basis, people who choose a career in law enforcement take on additional stressors. According to a 2014 study on police personnel and stress resilience training, these additional stressors may include psychological stressors connected with the mission, extended duty cycles, and exposure to horrific scenes of death and injury. (1)

If you are a police officer, military personnel, or another form of law enforcement with an overabundance of stress, this article is for you. To help you battle not only criminals, but also stress- Here are a few tips for helping combat stress.

  1. Recognize. As with most things you must work to overcome, recognizing the problem is the first step. Take the time to assess your personal stress levels regularly. By keeping a close watch you can begin to sense trigger stressors before they build and get out of hand.
  2. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Though the hours of those who have careers in law enforcement can be demanding, it’s important to prioritize good health in your life. Do your best to maintain a regular sleeping schedule, eat healthy foods, and stay active.
  3. Take time away. Don’t be afraid to take a step away from the field whenever you need it. Small vacations away or extra time spent at home relaxing with loved ones can be just what the doctor ordered to help eliminate on-the-job stress.
  4. Prioritize. Law enforcement personnel have a rather important job, but never more important than your family or loved ones. Be sure to prioritize and bring things into perspective regularly to help ward off unneeded stress.
  5. Invest in a hobby. When you’re off the clock, choose to invest in a hobby. Weather its model cars, an instrument, or even sports by learning something new or engaging in an activity you enjoy you can naturally melt away stress and reenergize your body for another day on the job.
  6. Seek help. If you find yourself carrying a heavy weight of stress on your shoulders wherever you go, take the step toward seeking professional help. Confiding in a professional can help you receive the necessary help required to tackle your stress.

While everyone struggles with stress at one point in their life or another, people in law enforcement often have additional stressors. Combat unwanted stress on the job by learning to recognize stress in your life, leading a healthy lifestyle, taking time away, prioritizing, investing in a hobby, and of course- seeking help when you need it most. By doing so you can not only battle criminals but also stress.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Police Department Personnel Stress Resilience Training: An Institutional Case Study, Potential law enforcement stressors, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24808985

Seeking Compensation: Physical vs Mental Pain

Mental PainWhen it comes to the court room we are quite familiar with law suits over physical injuries like broken bones and bruises but are you aware of the many law suites occurring over mental pain as well? Law suits are filed every day on behalf of mental pain such as anguish, emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and so on. But do these victims seeking mental compensation win battles within the court room just as well as those seeking compensation for physical pain do?

In a 2008 Texas case 17-year-old Laura Schubert sought compensation for injuries she suffered during an exorcism. Her injuries included physical- cuts and bruises and also mental- mental anguish, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and a suicide attempt. The court ruled in favor of compensation for her physical injuries but not for her mental pain. (1) But why? Is there a double standard? Does physical pain somehow trump mental pain?

Prove it. It certainly is not that mental pain is not comparable to physical pain. We certainly know that feelings of depression, loss, anger, etc. can hurt worse than a scrape or bruise at a times. The challenge is proving your mental pain within a court room. Unlike physical pain you cannot simply submit a photo of a marking on your arm for the jury to examine. Proving mental pain is far more challenging.

Jurors especially are apprehensive to leaning in the favor of mental pain compensation because there is the potential for deceivers to lie and profit from it. Not only do you have to prove it, but you have to make the jury believe your plea.

Make the connection. In order for a ruling to go in the favor of providing compensation for mental pain, the courtroom must first make the connection between physical and mental pain. Many of the uneducated public do not understand that physical health issues like diabetes can cause mental issues such as depression and anxiety, according to the American Psychological Association. (2) These connections are what will award you appropriate compensation.

While there may be a small double standard within the court room when it comes to physical pain vs. mental pain compensation, it’s our job to inform the public. By teaching the mass population about the pain experienced mentally after incidents and its connection to physical issues we can pave the way to a fairer courtroom, without the double standard for all.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Physical vs. Mental Pain: A Legal Double Standard?, Information on 2008 Texas case, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/jn.aspx
  2. Physical vs. Mental Pain: A Legal Double Standard?, Physical can cause mental, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/jn.aspx

 

 

5 Tips for Encouraging Regular Activity within Your Family

Family TherapyThe average child between 8 and 18 years old spends about 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen (TV, computer, phone, etc.), according to the U.S. government (1). This is a very sad statistic that has many people worried about the activity level of our children. It is recommended that children have at least 60 minutes of activity per day, but that goal is not always reached.

In fact, a study of high school students in 2013 found that less than 30% had reached that goal in the previous week (2). Physical activity is defined as “any body movement that works your muscles and requires more energy than resting (3).” Some people think that physical activity means playing sports, but there are many other things that quality. Doing yard work, going for a walk, or going for a swim in the pool are all examples of physical activity. If you are a parent that is striving to keep your kids active and away from the screen, here are a few things that could help.

  1. Promote it. If you do not show interest in physical activity, chances are good that your children won’t either. Kids will be deterred from outside play when they hear parents or other kids complaining about how hot it is or how tired they are. Physical activity needs to be portrayed as something fun and something to look forward to, not something to dread. One common mistake that people make is to promote physical activity in boys more than girls. Girls need just as much exercise as boys and they are just a capable of doing vigorous activity (4).
  2. Participate in it. Don’t tell your kids to go outside and play – go with them. Play catch, make up a game, go for a walk, or anything else that your kids mention that they want to do. Instead of telling them to go rake the yard, grab a rake and do it together. Make it fun by making it a competition or offer a reward for a job well done.
  3. Mix it up. Kids need a variety of activities to keep them interested. Play in your backyard, walk to the park, go to a gym, visit the zoo, go to the beach, schedule a play date with friends – all of these things can promote healthy habits in your kids without calling it “exercise.”
  4. Give them the opportunity. There are many kids that would love to try a sport, learn karate, do gymnastics, etc. but are never given the chance. If your child shows interest in something, do your best to give them the opportunity. Instead of spending money on a video game, spend it on sports equipment for your home or use it join a team sport (5).
  5. Reward it. Watching television or playing games is not bad in moderation. After a long day of yard work, reward the kids with a trip to the movie theatre. After a long walk to the park while on a play date with friends, let them play a game together. Cutting out screen time altogether will most likely have adverse effects.

No matter what your children enjoy doing, make regular activity one of them. By promoting it, participating in it, mixing it up, giving them the opportunity, and rewarding them for taking part you can help encourage your family to get active daily.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Reduce Screen Time, Screen time statistics, 2013, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/reduce-screen-time/
  2. Physical Activity Facts, Activity level statistics, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm
  3. What Is Physical Activity? Definition of physical activity, 2011, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/physAdding Physical Activity to Your Life, Tips for staying active, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adding-pa/activities-children.html
  4. Parents’ Endorsement of Vigorous Team Sports Increases Children’s Physical Activity, Say Researchers, Parents promoting sports, 2009, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/07/parents-exercise.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

Practical Application Tips for Coping with Sleep Insomnia

Tips for InsomniaAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.(1) Clearly, getting adequate sleep is a nationwide problem, and one that is leaving lasting negative effects.

“Millions of people don’t get enough sleep, resulting in such problems as daytime sleepiness, poor decision making, interference with learning and accidents,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA). (2) If you are someone who struggles with sleep insomnia you know firsthand how challenging it can be to cope. But there’s hope!

To help, here are proven, practical application tips for coping with sleep insomnia and gaining a good nights’ sleep.

  • Restrict. Restrict the amount of time you spend in your bed to only time actually sleeping. Refrain from laying in your bed to read or rest signaling the brain mixed directions. Your bed should be restricted to a place of sleeping only.
  • Wait. Instead of going to bed at a routine time every day, wait until you begin to feel sleepy before putting your head to the pillow. This will help insure a nights’ sleep with minimal tossing and turning.
  • Try again. According to the APA, if you are unable to sleep within about 20 minutes or so, you should get out of bed and go to another room until feelings of sleepiness return. Notice, you are only to return to your bed with you are feeling tired again.
  • Maintain. While it is recommended that you do not go to sleep at a set time, but rather when you are feeling sleepy- you should maintain a strict sleeping schedule when it comes to waking up. Be sure to wake up each morning at the same time regardless of the amount of sleep you received.
  • Avoid. Often times, those who struggle to sleep at night time, turn to day time cat-naps. Unfortunately, this can make getting into a regular sleep routine even more challenging. Try waiting until night to catch up on all your sleep. This will help you fall asleep quicker and feel more rested in the morning.

With sleep insomnia affecting Americans all across the nation many people are struggling with how to cope. Putting proven, practical application tips like restricting, waiting, trying again, maintaining, and avoiding into action can make all the difference. By doing so you can gain a good nights’ sleep!

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

    1. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep With the Help of Psychology, Number of Americans with sleep disorder stats, 2004, http://www.apa.org/research/action/sleep.aspx
    2. Sleep, Negative effects of sleep insomnia, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/index.aspx

 

 

 

 

Sports and Mental Health: What’s the Connection?

Sports and mental healthTeam sports have long been a popular activity for people of all ages. While some people play just for fun, there are many others who play at an extremely competitive level. No matter your reason, however, there are benefits and dangers of playing sports.

Benefits

  1. Mental. Any type of physical activity can be beneficial to a person’s mental health, from walking to aerobics to sports. For people at risk of mental illness, exercise can be preventative; in those who already suffer from mental illness, activity can be used as a form of treatment. Exercise has been proven to lessen depression and decrease the number of psychotic episodes in other illnesses – and this is true for males and females of all ages. The more physical activity, the greater the improvement in mental health will be, according to the American Psychological Association (APA) (1).
  2. Emotional. One of the biggest areas of emotional well-being is self-esteem. Belonging to a team, having people depend on you, and knowing that you are needed can all help a person have a positive view of themselves (2).
  3. Social. Someone who struggles socially can greatly benefit from team sports. A team usually consists of a people of a common age and interest, so you already have something in common with everyone. What a great start to form new friendships.
  4. Familial. So many mental health issues are worsened or even partly caused by a person’s home situation; this is especially true in children with mental disorders. Playing team sports can give a family a chance to spend time together and give a parent the chance to encourage the child.
  5. Physical. Playing sports has many physical benefits. Being in good shape does not just aid in sports performance but also in the performance of your body’s systems. Physical activity is good for the heart, the respiratory system, and the circulatory system among others. The healthier your body is, the healthier your mind will be.

Dangers

  1. Mental. If the athlete has obsessive tendencies or an addictive personality, sports and exercise can actually become detrimental to their mental health. Being so reliant upon physical activity for mental well-being, it could cause problems if you were to become injured or unable to continue for other reasons. Make sure that there are other treatment options in place.
  2. Emotional. There are times that a person playing sports can have a lowered self-esteem due to poor performance or inability to contribute to the team. Choose a sport in which you know you can be successful.
  3. Physical. Competitive teams really emphasize training, and with good reason. However, it is possible to injure yourself if the body is over-exerted. To avoid this, pay attention to your body’s signals of needing a break.

As long as you are aware of the dangers and do everything you can to avoid them, most psychologists will greatly encourage team sports to enhance your mental health.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit, Exercise and mental health, 2004, http://www.apa.org/research/action/fit.aspx
  2. Benefits of Sports, Emotional benefits, 2015, http://www.muhealth.org/services/pediatrics/conditions/adolescent-medicine/benefits-of-sports/
  3. The Benefits of Playing Sports Aren’t Just Physical! Social benefits, 2012, http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/blog/post/the-benefits-of-playing-sports-arent-just-physical!.aspx
  4. Exercise and Mental Health, Dangers, 1990, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2192422

Expectation vs. Performance

performanceThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “expectation” as “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen”; It defines “performance” as “the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request; something accomplished.” We have expectations in every aspect of life: for our kids, our marriages, our careers. In some areas, we set our own expectations; in others, they are set for us.

Our performance shows whether or not we fulfilled those expectations. For example, if you are asked to write a report by a specific deadline, you will be expected to fulfill this. The level of your performance may be determined by the quality of the report as well as your timeliness and accuracy. In general, if we meet all of the expectations we create for ourselves or are given, we might consider ourselves “successful.”

Expectation Mindset

expectationsThe expectations that you set for yourself and your life can be determined by your overall attitude. If you are an optimistic person, you will most likely have high expectations regarding the outcome of your life, career, and family. You imagine everyone at his best. If you are a pessimist, you might have low expectations or have doubts that you can fulfill expectations in those areas, reasoning that you will be pleasantly surprised if it turns out better than expected but prepared if it does not. These views are not necessarily wrong or right, just different.

Expectation Level

  1. High Expectations. Setting high expectations for yourself or for others can provide great motivation to perform. In sports, if a coach puts great trust in you and expects you to be a team leader, you will be very motivated to prove to him that you are capable of doing so. At work, setting high expectations makes you work harder to achieve that goal. However, setting your sights too high can be detrimental to your success. If the bar is set too high and you are not able to reach it, you may feel disappointment or inadequacy. You might feel embarrassed if you do not perform the way that you were expected to.
  2. Low Expectations. If your expectations are too low, the performance might be too easy. If there is no challenge, then there may be nothing to work for. Instead of having a drive to succeed, you may get comfortable in your position and reach a plateau.
  3. Realistic Expectations. Set expectations for yourself and others that you know will be motivational and require hard work but that will also be achievable. This will give you something to work for and then provide great satisfaction when you accomplish it.

Expectation Failure

We have all failed at something or fallen short of the expectations. Instead of letting this get you down or giving up, use it as motivation to improve or change what is needed to perform the way you are expected to.

Whether your performance succeeds your expectations or not, it’s important to keep in mind success is reached through trial and error. In all aspects of your performance, try-try-again!

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Expectation, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expectation
  2. Performance, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/performance
  3. High Hopes and Happy Homes, Mindset of Expectations, 2004, http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep04/highhopes.aspx