Lifeguarding Is Stressful – Use These Tips to Deal With It

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Sitting amongst hundreds of patrons, the lifeguard chair can be a lonely place. The rigors of the job require you to sit for long periods of time and stay focused, all while ensuring the safety of the guests you are watching. Not only do you embrace a great deal of responsibility, but you could be feeling the pressure of the responsibility as well. It is common to tell someone in your situation to “not to let the pressure get to you,” but when you are dealing with life and death situations, it is normal to have some stress. The best thing you can do is learn how to deal with your stress. Follow these tips to reduce your stress and be more confident on the lifeguard chair.

  • Talk to Your Supervisor: One of the many tasks of your supervisor is to ensure her employees are functioning at the highest level possible. Any time you are not feeling confident about your job, you need to tell your supervisor. Not only is it in their best interest to help you find a way to deal with your stress, but chances are they have been in the same situation. Often times, it is the outstanding lifeguards that are elevated to the position of supervisor. Supervisors have demonstrated to management that they are excellent leaders and have excelled at being a lifeguard. That is why your supervisor is the best source for advice on how to deal with the pressure you are feeling.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet and Stay Hydrated: While eating a balanced diet and drinking enough water won’t automatically eliminate stress from your job, it can prevent you from placing more stress on yourself. How so? Well, a common coping technique for dealing with stress is overeating and when your body is feeling stressed it usually craves junk food that is not good for your body. While these foods may make you feel better in the short term, they will take their toll on your body over time in the form of weight gain, immune system issues, and imbalances in your blood sugar. One way to prevent these issues is to practice a balanced diet and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Magnify Your Stressor: The human mind is an amazing thing. It allows you to do push your body beyond any limits that you set for yourself. It can also be your biggest inhibitor. Letting negative thoughts creep in your mind will lower your confidence and make you cautious on the lifeguard stand. The next time you doubt your abilities, try to magnify that doubt. Magnifying your doubt involves exaggerating your fear and proving to yourself that your fear is silly

    Not sure what we mean? Talk yourself through your doubts like this: “What if I see a man struggling in the pool and calling for help. Then I jump in the water to save him, but my entrance is very sloppy. I reach the man and am able to pull him to safety, but not before a little struggle when swimming with him to safety. When my manager witnesses this he decides to fire me for my flawed entrance and struggle when saving the man. Eventually, my name gets around to all the aquatics facilities in the world and I am never able to get another lifeguard job. Being kicked out of the lifeguard circle, I have no way of paying for college and am destined to develop a large gut and live in my parent’s basement forever.” Using this example, you can see that your doubts are most likely flawed. Rather than fire you for using sloppy technique, you supervisor will most likely praise you for saving a life. Use this technique to quell any doubts or fears of the job.

  • Practice: If you are new to lifeguarding, it will likely take you some time to develop comfort in the lifeguard chair. The comfort is developed as you gain more experience and practice your skills. While you won’t be able to time travel to a later date where you have more experience, you can control how much you practice the skills you doubt the most. It is extra practice that you will help you develop confidence to perform these skills in a moment’s notice in an emergency situation. Set a goal for yourself to practice the skill you doubt the most for an extra 15 minutes each day. As you develop more comfort with that skill, move on to the next skill you have the most doubt about.

Dealing with life and death situations among the many distractions makes lifeguarding a very difficult job. Not only do you need to keep in peak physical condition, you also need to train your mind to be in top mental shape as well. Stress is likely to be a major component of the mental side of the job. Whenever you encounter stress, make sure to use these tips to deal with it.