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Unpredictability: Anxiety

Topics: Family

Anxiety

 

When a person experiences anxiety, it can feel like nervousness or fear. Anxiety involves anticipating some kind of danger or negative event, either real or imagined. Anxiety can lead to physical reactions like an increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and/or muscle tension. It is an emotion that can be experienced both in the moment and over longer periods of time. In the short-term, anxiety can alert you to react to a perceived threat. When anxiety endures, it can develop into a clinical condition.

If you are experiencing significant worry or anxiety that interferes with your day-to-day life (e.g., work, relationships, sleep, or other important parts of your life), it is recommended that you consult your health care provider.

Effects of unpredictability of PSP work on PSP families

Activity: Identifying aspects that can shape PSP family anxiety

Please attempt this activity first, then read about the topic. Drag from A all that you think contributes to PSP family anxiety and drop in B.

 

Understanding the effects of unpredictability

Please click on each information icon on the pie to learn about the effects of unpredictability of PSP work on PSP families.

 

What is catastrophic thinking?

  • When we don’t have all the information about something, we can fill in the blanks. When we fill in the blanks with worst-case-scenario possibilities, we experience catastrophic thinking.
  • The unpredictability of PSP life can lead to anxiety and anxiety can easily lead to catastrophic thinking. For example, if a PSP is late coming home because they are filling in paperwork, anxiety could lead a family member to think that their PSP is hurt or dead.
  • While it is completely normal for PSP family members to have these fleeting thoughts, what is important is that they have ways to work through them. For practical suggestions on how to reframe catastrophic thoughts, please visit: https://www.pspnet.ca/en/for-families-of-psp/family-and-couples-resource-hub.

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References for this page (click to expand)

American Psychological Association. (2022). APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://dictionary.apa.org/ 

Bochantin, J. E. (2010). Sensemaking in a high-risk lifestyle: The relationship between work and family for public safety families. PhD Thesis. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.  

Cox, M., Norris, D., Cramm, H., Richmond, R., & Anderson, G. S. (2022). Public safety personnel family resilience: a narrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(9), 5224. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095224  

Friese, K. M. (2020). Cuffed together: A study on how law enforcement work impacts the officer’s spouse. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 22(4), 407-418. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461355720962527  

Helfers, R. C., Reynolds, P. D., & Scott, D. M. (2021). Being a blue blood: A phenomenological study on the lived experiences of police officers’ children. Police Quarterly, 24(2), 233-261. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098611120964954  

Karaffa, K., Openshaw, L., Koch, J., Clark, H., Harr, C., & Stewart, C. (2015). Perceived impact of police work on marital relationships. The Family Journal (Alexandria, Va.), 23(2), 120-131. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480714564381 

Landers, A. L., Dimitropoulos, G., Mendenhall, T. J., Kennedy, A., & Zemanek, L. (2020). Backing the blue: Trauma in law enforcement spouses and couples. Family Relations, 69(2), 308-319. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12393  

Miller, L. (2007). Police Families: Stresses, Syndromes, and Solutions. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 21-40. https://doi.org/10.1080/01926180600698541  

Watkins, S. L., Shannon, M. A., Hurtado, D. A., Shea, S. A., & Bowles, N. P. (2021). Interactions between home, work, and sleep among firefighters. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 64(2), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23194 

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