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Stress Management for Correctional Employees Course Information Course Author: Lynne Presley Models-Many thanks to the employees and inmates who volunteered.

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Presentation on theme: "Stress Management for Correctional Employees Course Information Course Author: Lynne Presley Models-Many thanks to the employees and inmates who volunteered."— Presentation transcript:


2 Stress Management for Correctional Employees

3 Course Information Course Author: Lynne Presley Models-Many thanks to the employees and inmates who volunteered to model for course pictures. Course created: August 2002 Online course revised April 27, 2009 ORACLE course code: SUP1090029 Training Credit: 30 minutes Oklahoma Department of Corrections Training Administration Unit Data Source Lesson Plan JEHCC-I-169, “Stress Management” prepared by Norma Burden, October 2001 Other sources are cited in footnotes throughout the course.

4 Course Objectives Understand the physical and emotional effects of stress Recognize the “fight or flight” response Learn positive strategies to lessen the negative effects of stress At the end of this course, students will be able to :

5 Introduction Why should we, as law enforcement employees, be concerned about stress? No job is immune from stress, but for law enforcement employees, the strains and tensions experienced at work are unique, often extreme, and sometimes unavoidable.

6 Consequences We must be concerned with stress, because the physical and emotional effects of stress are often numerous and severe. Any one of them can impair job performance. Some consequences of job-related stress, as reported by law enforcement officers, include: 1 Cynicism & suspicion Emotional detachment from aspects of daily life Reduced efficiency Absenteeism & early retirement Excessive aggressiveness Alcoholism & other substance abuse problems Marital & other family problems (for example, affairs, divorce and domestic violence) Heart attacks, ulcers, & other health problems Suicide 1 Finn, P., “On-the-Job Stress in Policing.” National Institute of Justice Journal, January 2000: 19-25.

7 Stress: Definition Just what is stress, anyway? Simply put, stress is any demand made on a human being. Stress itself is neither good nor bad; it’s just a fact of everyday life.

8 Stress: Definition, continued If we see the demand as a threat, we may be “de-motivated” and sustain negative physical and emotional changes. What’s important is how we respond to this demand. If we see the demand as a challenge, we may be motivated to get a job done.

9 Stress: Fight or Flight When we experience stress, what goes on inside our bodies? Regardless of the stressor, the same internal, involuntary “fight or flight” response is set in motion for all of us...

10 Stress: Fight or Flight, continued When stress is experienced, the cardiovascular system speeds up. As a result, our heart pounds faster, our breathing quickens in order to supply more oxygen to our elevated heartbeat, our blood vessels constrict, and our muscles tighten.

11 Stress: Fight or Flight, continued While our cardiovascular system speeds up, our gastrointestinal system slows down. If you’re under stress, the food in your stomach doesn’t get digested as fast as it should. This causes acid stomach, indigestion, and heartburn.

12 Stress: Physical Effects In fact, stress can affect our entire body. “It takes only a fraction of a second for stress, whether it’s thinking about work or a loud noise, to set off a chain reaction that affects everything from our eyesight to the muscles in our legs.” 2 2 Uris, R. “Mapping Your Stress Points.” Ladies’ Home Journal, November 2001: 80-84.

13 Stress: Physical Response When your body responds to stress, it gets ready for “fight or flight.” This prepares you to take action against a perceived threat. The more often your body sets off this response, the greater the cumulative wear and tear on your body. Over time, stress can affect your body and immune system so severely that it can no longer fight off illness.

14 Stress: Symptoms Many adverse physical reactions to stress can take years to develop. However, there are symptoms that signal we may not be coping well with excessive levels of stress in our day-to-day lives. “Trouble starts when the body is subjected to constant stress,” says Richard Shelton, M.D., a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. “The fight-or-flight response caused by stress is supposed to be brief. But that’s often not the case anymore. Acute stress has given way to chronic stress, which can be harmful.” 3 3 Uris, R. “Mapping Your Stress Points.” Ladies’ Home Journal, November 2001: 80-84. A medical viewpoint…

15 Stress: Symptoms, continued How do you know when you’re under too much stress? Well, you may feel depressed, unwell, or burned out. Here are some common symptoms: Chronic irritability Depressed/demoralized Continual boredom Excessive anxiety Nightmares Difficulty making decisions A growing tendency to think negative thoughts A loss of purpose and energy An increasing detachment from relationships A feeling that something is physically wrong with you

16 Stress: Positive Strategies (It’s our choice) We know that we experience stress in our lives, both at home and at work. Should we sit back and let it affect our lives in a negative way, or do we try to control our reaction to stressors? You can bring personal balance and inner calm to your stressed life if you’re willing to try!

17 Stress: Key Reduction Factors Individuals who seem to cope best with stress share the following factors: * They feel in control of their lives * They have a network of friends and family to provide social support * They accept change as an opportunity rather than a threat * They are able to handle their anger constructively * They tend to be flexible, hopeful, and have a healthy sense of self- esteem

18 Stress: Reaction & Coping Styles It’s important to take control of your reaction to stress. Many people cope by following thought and behavior patterns learned as children, with little deliberate thought. This is called behaving with scripted, maladaptive coping responses. This is emotion-based coping, in which the focus is dealing with your own anger, fear, or guilt as you react to the stressful situation. Click here for an explanation. Other people react with thoughtfulness and intention, which is behaving with deliberate, adaptive coping responses. This is problem- based coping, in which the focus is attempting to deal constructively with the stressful situation. 4 4 Schafer, Walt, “Stress Management for Wellness, ” Fourth Edition, Harcourt, Inc., 2000.

19 Case Study: Coping Example I Scenario: Your new supervisor gives you an important work project, gives you very little guidance, then gives you a one- week deadline to complete the project. This is very stressful to you. How you choose to cope can mean the difference between success and failure of your project and the amount of stress you’re subjected to. Click each speaker button for different coping examples. Adaptive Coping: Maladaptive Coping:

20 Stress Reduction Techniques We’ve discussed changing the way we react to stress by thinking deliberately instead of emotionally. In spite of our best efforts, though, stress occasionally gets the best of us. In those cases when adrenaline floods our body, relaxation techniques can help to bring our body processes back to normal.

21 Stress Reduction Techniques, continued Regain your focus! Pick an image or a sound, and focus intensely on it and nothing else for a few minutes. Soothing distractions can help clear the mind and restore focus on the mission at hand.

22 Survival Tips Before this course ends, we thought we would add a few additional suggestions for reducing stress. Click to the next page for our survival tips...

23 Stress Survival Tip #1 Accept others as they are... One of the most difficult tasks in dealing with people is accepting them as they are. Everyone does not think and work like you, and if you try to force them into your mold, you’re likely to face frustration and stress.

24 Stress Survival Tip #2 Accept success and failure... Everyone has successes and failures. Failures are not something to worry over – they’re something to learn from. Try to remember your successes instead of dwelling on your failures.

25 Stress Survival Tip #3 Recognize “universality”... Realize that you’re not the only person in the world who has problems, and quite likely, your problems are no worse or better than anyone else's. Everyone is occasionally worried or discouraged. It’s important to accept this and keep going!

26 Stress Survival Tip #4 Put yourself in charge! Don’t count on anybody else coming along to relieve your stress. Put yourself in charge of managing the pressure. There’s a good chance you’re the only one in your work situation who will, or even can, do much to lighten your psychological load.

27 Stress Survival Tip #5 Contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Our agency provides confidential assistance with a variety of problems ranging from chemical dependency to emotional and family problems to legal and financial difficulties. All employees are urged to use EAP services whenever the need arises. Click on the link below to discover what the EAP has to offer and how to contact unit personnel:

28 Conclusion “I assume that life is and always will be difficult. There is no freedom from challenge, change or conflict, but you can learn to confront, adapt, and grow by facing your problems.” 5 5 Schafer, Walt, “Stress Management for Wellness, ” Fourth Edition, Harcourt, Inc., 2000.

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