Why do some people thrive in the midst of daily challenges while others get taken out? Why can some people tolerate a tremendous amount of stress and others get sick?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back in the face of hardship and adversity, and perform your best on a consistent basis. Like a stress ball that returns to its original shape after being squeezed, the resilient recover more quickly when life’s pressures mount. While we may have different levels of resilience to begin with, based on heredity or psychological disposition, we can increase our resiliency over time.
Ten psychological and social factors have been identified as making a person more resilient.
-having a moral compass
-drawing on faith
-using social support
-having good role models
-being physically fit
-making sure your brain is challenged
-having cognitive and emotional flexibility
-having meaning, purpose and growth in life
-embracing realistic optimism
Used together, the effects are exponential. You can develop these factors to enhance your ability to thrive not only in the face of major trauma, but through the day-to-day stressors as well. This ability to thrive is a powerful skill to have while working at the dispatch center.
The impact of secondary trauma and chronic stress on the quality of life of 911 Dispatchers is better understood today than ever. Chronic stress is a huge part of the reason why 97% of those who become 9-1-1 Dispatchers do not retire in the position. The pressure of the work also contributes to the level of attrition seen in the profession: 60% leave before year three.
At the individual level, stress and secondary trauma contribute to weight gain, chronic pain, and general discontentment with life — all experienced at some point in a Dispatcher’s career.
Reflecting this growing understanding, both of the cause and the solution, action is being recommended. In late 2013, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) released their Standard on 9-1-1 Acute/Traumatic and Chronic Stress Management, recommending that every PSAP adopt a Comprehensive Stress Management Program to counteract the detrimental effects of 9-1-1 work-related stress. You can check out the Standard by clicking here.
The desired result of any effective Comprehensive Stress Management Program is one thing: greater resilience.
Research has shown that Dispatchers who are more resilient feel more in control of their work and lives in general, use less sick time and are happier. And the great thing is that resilience can be learned. You’re not stuck at some preset level.
Looking at the ten resilience factors above, which one can you use to make this a great week?