The tension and strain caused by dispatcher stress affects your relationships both on and off the job. If you’re experiencing burnout at work, the distance and disconnection you feel quickly gets spread to the home. Fights are often caused by a short fuse after a rough day on the phones and then not enough fun time.
Do you feel like you have very little time for yourself? Do you give your time away to things that you’d rather not do? Do you have trouble saying “No” to people?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be nurturing a dysfunctional relationship with your life outside of work.
In my darkest days at the dispatch center, I blamed all of my stress and tension on the job. I thought that as soon as I left the job, I’d be better. I wouldn’t have to work two jobs anymore, I’d have more time to spend with my girlfriend, and I wouldn’t have to speak to crazy callers. This sounded great!
So I kept working on my side business and kept trudging into the dispatch center most days, too. Then came a revelation.
After about two weeks of taking ten minutes for myself every day to sit and breathe, I started to notice that my relationship with my girlfriend was no longer good for either of us. We broke up.
Then I noticed that my relationship with my business partner was making life more difficult than it was improving things. I didn’t know this until after I broke up with my girlfriend. I had given all of my free time to the business project because, as long as I had work to do, I didn’t have to spend time with her.
I had been blindly devoted to a failing business venture because it helped me escape my relationship! When you’re not clear about how your relationships outside of work are helping or hurting you, you may fall into traps of self-deception like I did.
After making the break with my girlfriend and my business partner—both things that were not helping my stress levels—my relationship with my work improved dramatically. I became more present with callers. I was nicer to coworkers. I started having fun again.
It took courage, though, to bust out of the old relationships. Even if you’re uncomfortable with where you are, there’s familiarity in that discomfort. You choose the familiar discomfort over the mystery of the unknown because at least you can count on what you know.
Chronic stress causes you to see the world through the lens of lack and limitation. Instead of seeing what’s possible if you were to break free from the old way, you just stay where you are, stuck.
Evaluating the relationships you have outside of work is just as important, and perhaps more important, than evaluating your relationship to work. And by relationships outside of work, this doesn’t only mean to people. How are your hobbies? How is your fun level? What about your downtime, or your relationship to being a parent, son, friend?
Your relationships and the way you feel about them are telling you something valuable about where you’re at. Once you know where you are, and have a vision for where you’d like to be, it’s time to take action!
What’s something you can do for YOU, today?
About the Author:
Adam Timm is the author of the #1 bestselling book, Stress Is Optional! How to Kick the Habit, and the cofounder of The Healthy Dispatcher, a law enforcement training company that offers stress resilience, communication and leadership classes designed for Emergency Dispatchers.
A 9-1-1 telecommunicator for over a decade, he brings his stories from the frontline into his writings and classes. His second book, Dispatcher Stress: 50 Lessons on Beating the Burnout, is out now.