Each Tuesday, as part of a new weekly series, we’ll be asking one of our readers to share some of the ways they stay healthy mentally and physically in our demanding field.
To kick things off, Transformation Tuesday: THD Edition features The Healthy Dispatcher president and founder Adam Timm, who spent over a decade as a dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department before launching the company and bringing his tools for resiliency to comm centers across the country.
What unhealthy (physically or mentally) habits did you used to keep?
I was a hardcore road-rager and would honk my horn at slow drivers, flip them off, and tailgate people. I would get red in the face and then be pissed off when I got to work. This aggression was also shared with my coworkers and callers.
I was also a “fixer.” I would attract people who needed “fixing,” and then I would regularly give up a piece of myself for the peace of the situation. I was passive-aggressive and kept things to myself. I played the “blame game.” Everything was everyone else’s fault. I didn’t take responsibility for anything.
When did you notice they were negatively impacting your life, at work or at home?
It wasn’t until I got my third citizen complaint at work and was served with unpaid suspension days, that I began to see that my way wasn’t working. During this time, I also had regular tension headaches, indigestion, and felt anger and frustration at the slightest things. I also was nurturing a toxic relationship at home. I didn’t know all these things were connected.
How did you change these habits?
I took a 6-week stress reduction class that changed my life. I learned how to be more self-reflective. I started making better decisions. I said “no” more often to create more time for the things I enjoyed. By increasing my self awareness, I noticed that my bad attitude was the common denominator in all of the old experiences. It wasn’t “all their fault” like I always thought. I had a lot more power and control to change things for the better. One of the main practices that helped me was mindfulness. The other practice was writing in a journal. I did both of these once a day, and began to see things as they really were.
What are some of the ways you stay healthy now?
I exercise regularly, 3-4 times a week. I balance my travel/work schedule with downtime. I try to get outside every weekend for at least a few minutes to a few hours. I watch what I eat and pay attention to how I feel after I eat something. If I have pasta once this week, for example, it’s fine. When I have pasta or pizza more than once a week, my stomach gets upset and I feel lethargic. I try to hang out with friends a few times a month, and engage activities that aren’t work-related. It’s all about balance for me.
What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed in yourself as a result of these healthy changes?
It’s been 10 years since I took that stress reduction class that changed everything for me. I notice that I’m generally more happy, and it’s easier to find things to be happy about. Previously, I had a very pessimistic attitude. Nothing helped. Now, my baseline level of contentment is positive, and not many things can steal my joy.
Have you made some big (or small!) changes in the way you deal with stress on the job and at home? Want to share your #TransformationTuesday story with the rest of THD community? Message us on Facebook or Instagram to be featured!
About the Author:
Adam Timm is the president and founder of The Healthy Dispatcher. A 9-1-1 telecommunicator with the Los Angeles Police Department for over a decade, Adam now provides leadership training and consulting to PSAPs around the country. He is the author of three books, including the popular, Dispatcher Stress: 50 Lessons on Beating the Burnout, and, “People Driven Leadership: How the Best 9-1-1 Centers Inspire Positive Change,” both available on Amazon.com.
For more articles visit: https://thehealthydispatcher.