As we enter the holiday season, I like to remind myself of how beneficial it is to take the time to intentionally be present and stay truly connected with those that mean the most to us. I need that, you need that, and our loved ones need that from us. Take the time to recharge and enjoy the people in your life and give them the time to enjoy you. For all the things you see and deal with daily in law enforcement, you deserve to put those thoughts aside and enjoy the season, celebrations, and your loved ones.
Most days as a law enforcement manager — now private sector employee, parent, spouse, friend, and daughter caring for an aging parent, I often find myself mentally rushing to the next thing on my to-do list instead of being present.
Being present during an event, soccer game, meeting, party, meal, or conversation has always been a challenge for me due to all that is consistently on my plate. And it becomes more prevalent during the holidays with all the added “to-dos” and places to be. I know this resonates with some of you. It’s the tug of war between what we need to do and what we should do and what we want to do — and those lines blur. So, what do we do about it?
We learn how to be intentional with our time and attention. The healing that comes with quality time and downtime is immense. While I know many of you are not there yet, as I dive headfirst into my post-law enforcement second career, I can feel the weight and intense responsibility of being a law enforcement officer easing. I am trying to work harder on that work-life balance we all talk about, and I can tell you I feel it working. And it’s worth it.
Making a career change has allowed me to prove to myself that I needed to be intentional in smaller increments all along. I’m still swamped, and I’m not suggesting a career change for each of you but making my career change has made me realize the gravity of constant pressure and constant stress. I have realized I need to be more cognizant and proactive in managing stress. For me, that starts with being present with all the joyful things in my life.
I was fortunate in my career to not have done much shift work. I worked all hours of the day and night, working for a state investigative agency, but I often had holidays off. There were times we would get called out to process a crime scene on a holiday, but more often than not, we were at home with our families. I know many of you will be working long hours over the holiday season and celebrating on a different day than many families, just so you can have that special time together. When you are with your loved ones, remember to slow down, be present, notice the effort of your family and friends, listen to conversations, and enjoy their company.
Easier said than done right? As law enforcement professionals, you are dealing with traumatic things daily. Many of you deal with horrible vehicle accidents, the violence of crime scenes, and images of children being sexually abused. I know those things are not easy to forget. Then there are everyday personal life pressures on top of your professional ones.
For many years, my norm has been to distance myself when I feel mentally drained and unable to adequately communicate with my friends or family. I often go into another room alone and work because the pressure of my to-do list is overwhelming. I tell myself that I have so much to do – and I do – but this is an excuse, and the result is me not being present, intentional, or joyful while surrounded with friends and family. I imagine I’m not the only one.
Additionally, many of us experience compassion fatigue, which describes the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of helping others — often through experiences of stress or trauma. What seems like colossal problems to others don’t look that way to many law enforcement officers. Then we come across as uncaring. During those holiday dinners, be aware of this too. It’s an obstacle to being present.
Know That You’re Appreciated
After 30 years in law-enforcement I chose Grayshift to continue my career because I knew I would be able to continue with a similar mission. Grayshift developed GrayKey, a state-of-the-art digital forensic access tool, that helps law-enforcement solve crimes and help keep our communities safe. GrayKey is only available to law-enforcement and defense agencies which means I get to continue to serve dedicated, intelligent, passionate, people who are making a difference in the world! I’m very thankful for this opportunity.
While we have shared experiences, everyone’s journey through law enforcement is different. And everyone’s journey through a law enforcement career affects them differently. Even more so in retirement, I have immense respect for the sacrifices that law enforcement officers make daily, and the stressors that profoundly affect you and your loved ones. I am thankful for each one of you! I am thankful for all of you that are carrying on the mission. I am thankful for all who are sacrificing daily to keep their communities safe, and who are committed to making them better. I am thankful for the continued opportunity to assist law enforcement, and to help the communities we serve.
It seems obvious — be present. But, if we don’t intentionally make ourselves present, it might not happen. Know that you are appreciated. Your loved ones appreciate you and the job you do daily. I appreciate you. Grayshift appreciates you. Take the time to be present because you deserve it. I know you are strong, resilient, hardworking, loyal, and dedicated to your mission. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are appreciated and to take care of ourselves as we take care of others.
Be present, intentional, and joyful this holiday season. You deserve it.