While winding down a part-time career teaching paramedic students a few years back, it occurred to me ( like an inside pitch can “occur” to a batter) that first responders in general and paramedics in particular were not getting some of the training they need to survive for the long haul in their careers. I thought about some of this missing skills inventory and lumped in things like meditation (I did not even know what Mindfulness was 5 years ago), yoga, nutrition, PTSD awareness, and even basic self-defense. While I thought I was bringing something entirely new into the classroom, it turns out that resiliency skills have been around and have been taught in various industries for decades.
Go ahead, Google “resiliency” training and you will discover a host of programs that enhance cognitive, physical, and emotional endurance in places like law enforcement, firefighting, the military, and in corporations. While it has been easy for me to spot the need for such skills and training in my own first responder community, it has more recently struck me that we ALL could use resiliency training. Incorporating elements of yoga, or a mindfulness practice, or any level of nutrition education, sleep deprivation awareness, even a little self-defense can make a big difference in how easily we navigate and endure the little disasters of our lives. Certainly, Disasters with a capital D like hurricanes and wildfires can be better managed if we are armed with these skills but I would argue the same is true for the little disasters we endure every day.
Nearly everyone I know faces a daily barrage of fear-inducing or at least provocative media reports. (fact checking aside) On top of that, the deluge of information flowing on our screens and general acceleration in the pace of life has resulted in historic levels of anxiety that leave folks wondering how to cope with it all. And they are the survivors of this stress mill. The bottomline for me, is that while there are segments of society exposed to inordinate amounts of toxic stress (e.g. military families, teachers, first responders, healthcare workers, social workers, – and the list goes on,) our entire population could benefit from exposure to resiliency training.
What does that look like exactly?
Here are a few ideas:
- high schools incorporating yoga into their PE programs
- science classes covering our evolving understanding of sleep physiology
- families exploring the range of nutritional values in whatever they’re eating
- individuals committing to a morning or evening routine that refreshes them emotionally and spiritually even. ( I’ve had a good experience with Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning and the free meditation app- Insight Timer with my personal favorite leader: Meg James out of Australia. )
- reset your relationship with your smartphone. I recommend Catherine Price’s book How to Break Up With Your Phone, for a witty and compassionate guide.
And for some good news- taking some action on your readiness to endure the little disasters of your life actually prepares you for the bigger stuff.