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Do Not Let Stress Develop Into a Serious Anxiety Disorder
By Ryan Rivera
Published: 10/24/2011

Stress-a When you work in corrections you deal with more stress on a daily basis than some people experience in a lifetime. You are surrounded by convicted criminals, and you need to constantly be on your guard to protect yourself from danger.

You took this job because you’re mentally strong. You have succeeded because you can withstand the verbal abuse and the threat of danger. You’ve endured the abuse and you’ve seen terrible things, but you’re able to continue in this field because you know how important your role is and how vital you are in your community.

But it’s also important to remember that you’re still a human being, and you experience real, physical stress. It’s easy to pass it off as the “nature of the job,” but the reality is that stress is a very real medical problem. It damages your body, it weakens your immune system – it has the potential to cause heart attacks and lead to a premature death. It’s a serious problem that effects many people in corrections, and it is not something you should ignore.

Stress and Long Term Anxiety

One of the biggest problems with this stress is that it often bleeds into your home life. When you are constantly on your guard at work, it becomes more and more difficult to turn off those emotions when you get home. That may easily cause a stressful home life which will ultimately continue to lead down a destructive, anxiety riddled path.

The stress you experience is not something to ignore. Over time that stress will build, and there is a strong chance it will develop into a long term anxiety disorder. Corrections officers everywhere deal with these problems. Long term stress can easily cause PTSD or anxiety attacks that make it difficult – if not impossible – to do their jobs effectively.

Stress also starts to change your body’s anxiety baseline level. Stress is also self-sustaining. The more stress you feel, the more likely you will experience stress in the future, because you’ll start to experience anticipatory anxiety – every time you come into work you’ll expect to be anxious, and within moments you will experience that level of extreme anxiety.

Over time you will experience long term anxiety that will affect your daily life – anxiety that is harder to cure and can cause future health, psychological, and relationship problems.

Seeking Help for Chronic Stress

If you’re a corrections officer that suffers from serious stress, you need to reduce that stress before it becomes an anxiety order. You don’t need to be a hero – you already are one. But to remain such a valuable member of the justice system, you need to be able to take care of yourself, and that includes reducing your daily stress. There are several stress reduction techniques you can implement:
  • Autogenic Training - Autogenic training is a method of relaxation designed to create full body stress. Autogenic works by telling your body to perform various actions, such as “my arm feels warm” and letting your body experience the phrase. You repeat this process for all areas of your body until you feel calm and relaxed. Autogenic training has a very specific structure, so it’s a good idea to learn from an expert.

    The hardest part of autogenic training for corrections officers is starting. It can be a little embarrassing at first to “tell” your body to feel a certain way or do certain things, but the long term benefits are there, and it’s a method that you can utilize at work.


  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation - If you work in corrections, you may prefer progressive muscle relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tightening muscle groups and relaxing them. It only takes 15 or so minutes a day, and can be done during a break or even while standing guard. Tightening the muscles and releasing them promotes physical relaxation, and there is evidence that physical relaxation reduces the likelihood of developing anxiety problems.


  • Developing a Social Support System - It’s also important to find a way to function and cope outside of the workplace. Find an activity to enjoy outside of work that is both fun and relaxing, and can be enjoyed with friends and/or family. Because of the nature of your job it can be difficult to reduce stress while at work, but if you can find a healthy way to relax immediately after you’re done with work, you reduce the chance that your stress will lead to a long term disorder.

    Also, don’t forget that you can and should always take advantage of therapy and counseling sessions. Cognitive behavior therapy and other types of counseling have proven to be effective at relieving stress and providing new coping strategies for adults that work in high stress careers. Seeking help may go against your instincts, but the benefit of seeking help is substantial.

Finding Help in Corrections

Stress is a serious problem. It’s vital that you stop your daily stress from becoming a persistent problem. If you don’t reduce your daily stress, you may easily find yourself suffering from serious anxiety that negatively affects your personal life, and you run the risk of experiencing an anxiety attack when you’re needed at your job. Take care of yourself, reduce your stress, and you’ll continue to be a force at your career, a valuable member of the criminal justice system, and an individual that enjoys his/her life.

Corrections.com author, Ryan Rivera, came to terms with his own anxiety disorders, and has made it his mission to help others learn how to better manage their stress and anxiety. He is the Publisher & Founder of the Calm Clinic in Grandville, MI.


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