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Maintaining Control - A Step Toward Personal Growth

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Volume: 54 Issue: 3 Dated: (March 1985) Pages: 10-14
R B Schaefer
Date Published
5 pages
This article discusses how individual law enforcement officers can cope effectively with stress in a positive manner.
Successfully dealing with stress can be divided into three stages; individual growth, development, and maturity. Generally, officers across the country have been exposed to the first stage, inoculation and training, which is really a developmental learning stage. The active use of individual coping techniques, which requires self-motivation and commitment, represents the second stage. While most officers seem eager to learn to cope positively and successfully with the stress of their work, they are often reluctant to use new or different techniques. The final stage is an evaluation process, requiring officers to carefully examine the cumulative effects of the first two stages. Police officers may not have control over events, but they do have control over their perceptions of those events; stress can be reduced by altering negative perceptions. Use of a positive attitude can help officers maintain control in various situations where they actually lack control. Stress management consists of five key steps: (1) changing work and social environment, (2) understanding emotions, (3) learning unstress remedies, (4) taking care of the body, and (5) providing for spiritual needs. Officers should be aware of signs that they are under stress -- for instance, changes in personality, unusual sleep patterns, and excessive use of medication. The energy of stress can be harnessed to improve officers' physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Thirteen notes and two figures are included.