Mental Health Tips for Security Guards

Learn how security guards can manage stress, improve resilience, and enhance their well- being on and off the job.

The role of a security guard can put you in stressful, risky, and dangerous situations. This job can have a higher-than-average stress level, so taking a keen approach to managing the challenges and anxieties of the job is critical to support good mental health.

By following these mental health tips for security guards, you’ll find it easier to handle volatile situations, keep your cool, and maintain a positive work-life balance.

Managing On-the-Job Stress and Anxiety

Rowdy patrons, faulty equipment, large crowds, unfamiliar scenarios, suspicious characters — all these and so much more can contribute to a stressful, high-anxiety environment when you’re a security guard. The constant vigilance required to monitor and protect property, assets, and people can lead to mental fatigue. The irregular hours, including night shifts and extended periods of duty, can disrupt sleep patterns and personal life, adding to the stress.

Additionally, dealing with aggressive or hostile individuals can create a constant state of alertness, which may escalate into anxiety, affecting mental well-being and job performance. Yet the best security guards can take it all on without getting overwhelmed or making emotionally charged decisions.

That’s because they know how to protect their emotions during tense situations and recharge their mental fortitude after events that drain their clarity, energy, and calmness. The first step to achieving this level of self-preservation is identifying the signs in your own body and mind that stress and anxiety are starting to have a negative impact.

Identifying Stress and Anxiety

Here are some key mental, physical, and behavioral indicators that a guard might notice in themselves, signaling a need for self-care and mental health refresh.

Mental Symptoms

  • Getting irritated or frustrated easily or more often than normal

  • Difficulty concentrating, focusing, or making decisions

  • Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with day-to-day duties without struggle

  • Experiencing increased nervousness or persistent worrying, even in safe situations

Physical Symptoms

  • Feeling tired, fatigued, or slow, even with adequate sleep and diet

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or the opposite — extra difficulties when waking

  • Getting headaches, muscle aches, or other tension-related ailments

  • Experiencing stomach aches, pains, nausea, or other digestive issues

  • Having an irregular heartbeat, such as racing, pounding, or fluttering

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Withdrawing from social situations or relationships with friends and family

  • Experiencing changes in appetite — struggling to eat or overeating

  • Relying more on substances like caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol to be productive or able to relax

  • Avoiding or feeling fearful of normal situations, including responsibilities or hobbies

  • Experiencing rapid and intense changes in mood, such as sudden tears or unexplained anger

While one or two of these symptoms are normal human reactions to stress and can be handled easily, experiencing more than a few at once indicates a problem. Fear not, however, as plenty of tips, resources, and professionals are available to bring you back to a happier, calmer state.

Reducing the Impact of Stressful Work Experiences

You can’t avoid the dangerous or intense aspects of a security guard job but you can develop skills and habits that help you keep cool in the face of fiery scenarios. These tips also help you build resilience, the ability to bounce back from high-stress situations.

Mindfulness and Breathing Techniques

Mindfulness is the practice of giving the current moment your full attention without judgment (coming to conclusions or making decisions). It can often be incorporated with breathing techniques to shift one's body from stress-response mode to a calmer, more regulated state.

For instance, “belly breathing,” or deep diaphragmatic breathing, is when you take a strong breath through the nose, fill your lungs, and expand your belly beyond your chest to activate the lower breathing muscles. This maximizes your oxygen intake and puts your body into a slower, calmer rhythm.

Another example is 4-7-8 breathing. You exhale completely through your mouth, then breathe through your nose for four seconds. After holding that breath for seven seconds, you exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Do this a few times, and anxiety tends to melt away.

Additionally, cultivating a positive mindset through affirmations and coping strategies can fortify psychological resilience, enabling you to manage and recover from stress more efficiently.

Keeping Active

Regular physical activity, such as walking or stretching during breaks, can reduce physical tension and help clear the mind. Exercise is a proven stress reliever that improves both physical and mental health. If you’re not already on foot patrol, find a way to incorporate it.

Stay Full and Hydrated

Are you stressed, or are you “hangry” (hungry + angry)? Food and water are essential to staying energized and focused, obviously, but it’s easy to forget that during a long shift. Stay hydrated, eat nutritious meals, and have a snack for when your stomach rumbles.

Bringing your own food from home helps you avoid the unhealthy vending machine snacks. You can also get yourself a nice water bottle that you can carry with you. Just make sure it’s durable and leak-proof.

Peer Support and Communication

Leverage the community you’re already in — and the people who might best understand your stresses, since they experience them, too. That’s not to advise you to complain on the job, but having open and honest conversations with peers helps build strong relationships and work through challenges in healthy, productive ways. Peer support can also foster a sense of belonging, which is essential for mental resilience.

Communication Flexibility

Good communication skills go a long way. Communicating effectively, respectfully, and calmly with coworkers, managers, and patrons takes care and patience. When you can pick up on the communication styles of others and adjust your own to interact with them most effectively, you can find yourself experiencing fewer misunderstandings that can cause stress.

Use Available Mental Health Resources

Your employer and benefits package likely include services and perks meant to support and improve your mental health and work-life balance. Whether that’s access to online or in-person therapy and other medical programs or just paid vacation time to relax and unwind, don’t let it go to waste!

Happy, well-adjusted people make for happy workplaces and effective members of a team. Companies that invest in the well-being of their employees can find benefits like improved morale, fewer sick days, and better on-the-job performance with fewer mistakes and disciplinary actions.

Look around in your community, too. Free and low-cost services, plus public events, are often available to feed the human need for socialization, movement, community, and therapeutic experiences.

Get the Best Security Training

When you walk in confident and prepared, you won’t be as stressed by the challenges of your job as a security guard. That confidence and preparedness come from the comprehensive training you’ll undergo before earning your security guard license.

Ready to explore a career in security? Take the next step and get the training you need to successfully become a licensed security guard.

Quinn Smith ·

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