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Dealing with Tele-pressure & FOMO
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 10/05/2015

Cellphone handcuffs
As a correctional officer or employee, your typical duty day is long enough as it is especially if you are volunteering for overtime or working on special projects. Today’s technology has extended the work day even more so than before, as the organization you work for expects more with less and that puts a big burden on your mind and body.

One can only imagine the fatigue you feel when you walk through the front door of your home and your cell phone rings or an email catches your eye, and either asks you come back to work or come in early the next day. Drained of energy as you may be, you need to respond to matters brought to your attention. More importantly, the boss expects an immediate response whether you are available or not. It is almost impossible to disconnect your relationship from work at home. Technology has attached your mind forever as a lifeline or as long as you carry a Smartphone that delivers your calls and emails 24/7 creating a phenomenon called Tele-pressure (stress). A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that more than 50% of us check work email before and after work hours, throughout the weekend, and even when we’re sick. Even worse, 44% of us check work email while on vacation.

Mobile phones are rarely turned off. Even while on the charger, it is on. Sometimes, we take the time to silence the ringtone but phone’s power is on. You and your phone are collaborators in you life – it’s either going to be a positive relationship or a bad one. One of the most obvious signs you are suffering from Tele-pressure is the phenomenon called FOMO.

Better known as the “Fear Of Missing Out” syndrome, FOMO is a relatively new term associated with today’s high-tech millennial generation which includes those born after 1980 but has grabbed those before this time as well. These people fear that they’ll miss out of something important, fun and interesting. FOMO is a powerful force and it correlates to people’s tendency to avoid loss of information in their lives. You can almost call it an addiction as there are many people who rely on their phones too much and too often.

This constant connection cannot be a good thing if not balanced between your off duty time and your on-duty commitment. Tele-pressure ensures that you are never able to relax and truly disengage from work. This prolonged state of stress is terrible for your health. Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance.

In order to deal with the Tele-pressure whether personal or professional, we need to establish clear lines or boundaries between those dynamics that motivate or guide us daily. If we don’t do that, we are subject to fall victim to poor health, extreme stress and anxiety and deprived relationships.

Whenever you are faced with a busy schedule that intrudes on your life in all directions, you need to prioritize your needs or values and put them in some kind of order so you remain healthy, happy and balanced.

Easier said than done, it is important you take the time to do this is you are to sustain a long and happy relationship and career – those two works hand in hand and need a sound balance in order to get along with each other. Learning how to say no to the boss may not be an option - however, setting you priorities can help you achieve a measurable value to allow a balance between work and play. Set your values in order; don’t give them away without first evaluating what is important and where it is on your continuum of life and the pursuit of happiness.

Shape your character to fit your values and allot your time spent for those things to be reasonable and necessary in order to remain fit and mentally alert. Taking short cuts can only hurt you in time as stress and other ailing symptoms take time to show up or be detected and often that is a case of being in dire straights and in need of treatment or rest.

Based on my own evaluation of my service record, I prioritized my life in the following order – physical health, family, mental health wellness, as well as my ethics, contacts, activities. Certainly, there are more activities in your life than those mentioned above and you can add them to the list as you see fit or proper. The key here is to sustain the long hard traveled road and career as well as taking care of yourself and family.

You cannot let bad things sneak up on you, and the way you do that is by keeping a consistent routine. Think about what you need to do to keep yourself active and healthy (taking brisk walks during lunch, skip working weekends, taking your vacations as scheduled making it more remote than ever, etc.), make a plan, and stick to it no matter what.

If you don’t, you’re allowing your work to overstep its bounds. When your mind is at ease, you naturally feel good, and make it easier to deal with the things around you. What is more important is that your energy is regulated to the point where you are able to respond effectively and within a reasonable amount of time.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:


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