Breathing eases Stress, Anxiety, Depression and PTSD.

FRY stress anxiety PTSD

Breathing ease Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD.

Breathing eases Stress, Anxiety, Depression and PTSD. 2017 research focused on people with those Major Disease Disorder. These People showed inadequate antidepressant treatment response. They participated in a 8 weeks Sudarshan Kriya yoga practice (SKY). SKY is a breathing technique that eases those disorders. It is a sequence of specific breathing techniques:
– the Ocean Sound,
– abdominal breathing, the Bellows Breath/Skull-polishing breathing and
– retentions
 
The study is available on the National Library of Medicine at this link

 

How can Breathing eases Stress, Anxiety, Depression and PTSD.

SKY can ease those Major Disease Disorder. Mechanisms contributing to a state of calm alertness include:
– increased parasympathetic drive,
– calming of stress response systems,
– neuroendocrine release of hormones, and
– thalamic generators.
 
SKY is beneficial to treat stress, anxiety, PTSD, depression, stress-related medical illnesses. Also it is a low-risk and a low-cost adjunct.
 
SKY is a public health intervention to ease PTSD in survivors of mass disasters. Yoga techniques enhance well-being, mood, attention, mental focus, and stress tolerance. What will maximize the benefits? Proper training by a skilled teacher and a 30-minute practice every. Health care providers play a crucial role in encouraging patients to maintain their yoga practices (see the part II of the study here)
 

FRY and Science Support

During the live class FRY streams 3 times a week, the breathing techniques above are a constant. We try to follow the tradition supported by science. We want our audience to believe in what we do with science support. You can find a list of research supporting FRY The Method on our website at this page.
Follow FRY The Method for a better life, for your mind-body wellness, for you and for the people you help on a daily basis.

Anxiety is a result of becoming aware of our deeper level of vulnerability

FRY anxiety yoga

Anxiety is a result of becoming aware of our deeper level of vulnerability.

Anxiety is a consequence of being aware of our deeper level of vulnerability. 

As human beings, we all are going to experience pain in our lives. That is something we cannot avoid at all. At a certain point in our life our body will hurt, so too our emotions. Feelings and pain can become even worse due to the horrible things happening in the world.

Stay with your moment-to-moment experience

Unnecessary suffering arises when we decide not to have direct experience. The more we refuse to stay in moment-to-moment experience, the more suffering arises.

Carl Jung says “All neurosis is a substitute for legitimate suffering.” We tend to unconsciously dissociate ourselves from intense experiences. We work instead on the relationship we have with pain. Neurosis is the effort of not feeling pain, risk, panic or fear. We try some distractions to get out of the real experience and disturbing feelings. Watching TV, drinking or using drugs are neuroses. Neuroses can bring immediate relief by numbing the awareness of our actual experience but they work only in the short run.

The magic of staying on the sensation level

I have found it helpful to stay on the sensation level. As a matter of fact, it’s very hard to find a problem at the sensation level of one’s experience. It’s very easy instead to find a problem at the interpretive and conceptual level. If you stick to the way you feel – “I feel tired”, “I feel angry”, “I feel pain” and so on – you can easily understand how those feelings are not harming you. They are just feelings. By staying on the sensation level, you can move around the pain. 

Fighting or accepting the who that you are?

Changing the way you relate to the who that you are can be a way towards a better life. Do not fight it. Instead accept it and observe it. Learn to yield and accept the sensation level of your experience. Witness the experience itself. It won’t allow you to avoid pain but it will lessen the suffering.

A few minutes of meditation on a regular basis can help you to recognize your emotions and become aware of the differences between the who you are and the sensations you feel. 

Try it! You do not even tell the others what you do. They will notice the difference in the who you will become.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of Yoga, Meditation, Breathwork, Positive Affirmations have a look at our dedicated page FRY Research and Links. Those are all segments of FRY The Method for First Responders.

Sasy, FRY Director

Yoga: Self-esteem boost or ego quieting?

FRY Self-enhancement

Is Yoga a self-esteem boost or an ego quieting practice?

Keep reading to find out the scientific answer.
 
Quieting the ego” is considered a root cause to lessen suffering and pain. I do not think there is too much to discuss about it. Each of us had some experiences about dealing with over-self-centered counterpart. Everyone deal with situation based on “I” talking, “mine” talking and so on. You cannot get out of that. “Mine” will be always more important than “yours” because “I” will be always more important than “you”.
 
Here is why Yoga and Meditation are important. They help you to feel the undivided unity between you and the other. In fact, separation is an illusion. The great poet Rumi said “Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?
 

Research

The “Self-Centrality Breeds Self-Enhancement” Principle.
There is a study about self-esteem’s relation to the Big Two personality dimensions:
– “agency” – e.g., ambitious, competitive, outgoing, getting ahead, and
– “communion” – e.g., caring, honest, understanding, getting along.
 
The researchers stated that “self-centrality breeds self-enhancement” principle. Agency will link to self-esteem, if agency is self-central. Communion will link to self-esteem, if communion is self-central. You can read the full study at University of Southampton (UK) at this LINK.
 
William James was a 1907 phycologists. He also stated that possessing important agentic or communal self-attributes, produce much self-esteem. In other words, when you believe in what you do, the result you get is an increase in self-esteem. No matter if what it is important for you is an agentic or communal self-attributes
 

Research

Mind-Body Practices and the Self: Yoga and Meditation Do Not Quiet the Ego but Instead Boost Self-Enhancement.
 
An article first published online on June 2018, reports the effect of yoga and meditation on the Self. You can read it on Sage Journal website at this LINK.
 
According to the study, self-enhancement bias is higher in the yoga  and meditation conditions, and the effect is mediated by greater self-centrality. Additionally, greater self-enhancement bias mediated mind-body practices’ well-being benefits. Evidently, neither yoga nor meditation fully quiet the ego; to the contrary, they boost self-enhancement.
 
The “ego-quieting” effect people talk in yoga, contradicts the self-centrality principle. According to this principle, practicing any skill renders that skill centered within yourself; and self-centrality breeds self-enhancement bias.
  

Outcome

There are so many studies supporting the benefits of yoga and meditation. Boosting your self-esteem is another added benefit. Another gain in the First Responders-fast-decision-to-take environment.
 
FRY The Method has its root in those ancient practices. Wanna give them a try? Download FRY The APP by using this LINKor contact us to know more about what we do and offer.
 
Sasy, FRY Director and Co-Founder

Can Yoga modulate stress, anxiety and depression? Does stress impact gender differently in Policing?

FRY The APP Yoga for First Responders

Can Yoga modulate stress, anxiety and depression? Does stress impact gender differently in Policing? Keep reading to find out the answer.

The U.S. Department of Justice published a study regarding the “Stress, Gender and Policing: The Impact of Perceived Gender Discrimination on Symptoms of Stress”.

You can read the full study at this link:

https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/stress-gender-and-policing-impact-perceived-gender-discrimination.

The results indicate that male and female officers have conflicting attitudes about the amount and nature of gender discrimination within police work. The findings further suggest that female officers experience higher levels of stress. Additionally, the results indicate a weak relationship between perceptions of gender related jokes and stress levels for females. The study iterates that police work is inherently stressful, and that the traditionally male-dominated field of policing may create increased obstacles and stressors for women officers.

In recent decades, several medical and scientific studies on yoga proved it to be very useful in the treatment of some diseases, stress and PTSD.

On our page https://www.frycanada.com/fry-research-links/ we have available different studies showing the benefits of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, breathwork and relaxation. Please feel free to jump there and learn more about the science beyond the yoga practice in all its full aspects.

A study published on the National Library of Medicine was conducted to investigate the effects of yoga on stress, anxiety, and depression in women.

You can read the full study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843960/

The total eligible sample consisted of 52 women with a mean age of 33.5 ± 6.5 years. The study above showed that 12 sessions of intervention such as regular Hatha Yoga exercise significantly reduced stress, anxiety, and depression in women. Thus, it can be used as complementary medicine and reduce the medical cost per treatment by reducing the use of drugs.

Not “the solution” but a tool, that extra juice you can add to your daily healthy routine that can really better your life and change the way you perceive happenings as stressors in your life.

Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. So, if you are really interested in wellness you have to factor in your mind states: meditation and mindfulness are other “natural drugs” you can use without any side effects.

FRY The Method has its root in those ancient practices. Wanna give it a try? Download FRY The APP or contact us to know more about what we do and offer or book a chat with us by using our Calendly: https://calendly.com/frycanada/fry_meeting_with_sasy_or_julia

Sasy, FRY Director and Co-Founder

The Science Behind FRY The Method for First Responders

The Science Behind FRY The Method for First Responders

The Science Behind FRY The Method for First Responders

A list of Research supporting each of the element belonging to FRY The Method for First Responders.

FRY Canada conducted

  • Qualitative interviews of First Responders across the 3 services (Fire, Police, Paramedic) and Dispatch; and
  • Literature review of mind-body injuries of First Responders

in 2018 and 2021 as preliminary investigation in the development of FRY The Method and FRY The APP

The book “F.R.Y. First Responders’ Yoga. The BOOK” is the culmination of these interviews and literature reviews paired with fitness training, advanced yoga education and direct experience as First Responders.

https://www.frycanada.com/books/

 

What FRY Canada heard from First Responders:

There is no time for self-care after shift with home life and personal responsibilities;

  • They cannot follow regular weekly classes due to their erratic shifts; and
  • There is no ONE source they may go to for their energetic workouts, stretching, meditation, relaxation, mindfulness or other stress relief techniques NOR are they specific to First Responder needs.

https://www.frycanada.com/individual-first-responders/

 

Generalizable Mindfulness-Based Strategies for First Responders

Generalizable Mindfulness-Based Strategies for First Responders such as Large and Deep Exhale, Diaphragmatic Breathing, Progressive Relaxation, Mindfulness Imagery increase self-awareness, lead to “decentering” (a non-identified awareness of the experiences whose consequence is a reduction of emotional reactivity), promote intentional responses, enhance self-compassion, and ultimately decrease suffering.

The mind-body interventions have been shown to directly promote First Responders’ mental and physical health while providing increased resilience when facing work-related stressors.  

The American Journal of Psychotherapy, July 2018, Summary of mindfulness-based benefits and empirical research. 

 

Strategies for First Responders Mental Health

A scoping review was conducted using the PubMed database (1966 to October 1, 2020) and the Google Scholar database (October 1, 2020) found:

  • Strategies for supporting mental health and well-being need to be implemented early in the First Responder career and reinforced throughout and into retirement (Begin in training).

  • They should utilize holistic approaches which encourage “reaching in” rather than placing an onus on First Responders to “reach out” when they are in crisis. (Develop a supportive community in good times to be there in the bad times).

Smith E, Dean G, Holmes L. Supporting the Mental Health and Well-Being of First Responders from Career to Retirement: A Scoping Review. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2021 Aug;36(4):475-480. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X21000431. Epub 2021 Apr 30. PMID:  33928892.

 

Breathwork

Yogic breathing is a unique method for balancing the autonomic nervous system and influencing psychologic and stress-related disorders. Mechanisms contributing to a state of calm alertness include increased parasympathetic drive, calming of stress response systems, neuroendocrine release of hormones, and thalamic generators – a set of neurons in the thalamus that sets up a clear rhythm in a related cortical area (due to breathwork).

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 11 Issue 1: March 4, 2005. Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Feb 2005.189-201.

 

Functional Movement: 

  • Functional fitness improvements after a worksite-based yoga initiative (Firefighters). Improvements were noted in trunk flexibility and perceived stress. Participants also reported favorable perceptions of yoga: feeling more focused and less musculoskeletal pain. 

Cowen VS. Functional fitness improvements after a worksite-based yoga initiative. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2010 Jan;14(1):50-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2009.02.006. PMID: 20006289.

  • Mindfulness-Based Stretching and Deep Breathing Exercise reduce the prevalence of PTSD-like symptoms in individuals exhibiting subclinical features of PTSD.

Kim SH, Schneider SM, Bevans M, Kravitz L, Mermier C, Qualls C, Burge MR. PTSD symptom reduction with mindfulness-based stretching and deep breathing exercise: randomized controlled clinical trial of efficacy. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7):2984-92. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3742. Epub 2013 May 29. PMID: 23720785; PMCID: PMC3701284.

  • Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions and involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent, reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional and spiritual pain, suffering or limitations. Results from this study show that yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.

Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul;4(2):49-54. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.85485. PMID: 22022122; PMCID: PMC3193654

  • Pre-to-post-yoga sessions, levels of positive emotions (engagement, tranquility and revitalization) increased while exhaustion decreased.

Complementary Therapies in Medicine Volume 49, March 2020, 102354 Exploring how different types of yoga change psychological resources and emotional well-being across a single session

 

Relaxation:

  • Relaxation training and yoga most effectively reduced anxiety symptoms among older adults. Furthermore, the impact of some relaxation interventions remained in effect for between 14 and 24 weeks after the interventions.

Effects of relaxation interventions on depression and anxiety among older adults: a systematic review – Piyanee Klainin-Yobas, Win Nuang Oo, Pey Ying Suzanne Yew & Ying Lau, Published online: 09 Jan 2015

  • Relaxation is as effective as cognitive and behavioural therapies in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy More Effective Than Relaxation Therapy In The Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders? A Meta-Analysis” – Jesus Montero-Marin, Javier Garcia-Campayo, Alba López-Montoyo, Edurne Zabaleta-Del-Olmo, Pim Cuijpers

  • Research suggests that common forms of relaxation training, such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Meditation, Breathing exercises, and Visualization can help individuals reduce stress, enhance relaxation states, and improve overall well-being. The study below examined three different, commonly used approaches to stress relaxation: Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Deep Breathing, and Guided imagery that are all part of FRY The Method. The result is that those techniques promote both psychological and physiological states of relaxation, offering a head-to-head comparison of stress-reduction strategies.

Effectiveness Of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Deep Breathing, And Guided Imagery In Promoting Psychological And Physiological States Of Relaxation – Loren Toussaint, Quang Anh Nguyen, Claire Roettger, Kiara Dixon, Martin Offenbächer,Niko Kohls, Jameson Hirsch, And Fuschia Sirois – 03 Jul 2021

 

Positive Affirmations / Neuroplasticity: 

Positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts, brief phrases, repeated frequently, which are designed to encourage positive, happy feelings, thoughts, and attitudes and set goals. 

Self-affirmations have been shown to:

  • Decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015).

Clayton R. Critcher and David Dunning. Self-Affirmations Provide a Broader Perspective on Self-Threat

or you can read:

Psychological vulnerability and stress: The effects of self-affirmation on sympathetic nervous system responses to naturalistic stressors – Sherman, D. K., Bunyan, D. P., Creswell, J. D., & Jaremka, L. M. (2009). Health Psychology, 28(5), 554–562.  

or you can read this Link 2

  • Create an adaptive, broad sense of self which makes us more resilient to difficulties when they arise

Minakshi Rana. Positive Affirmations and its Benefits on Psychological Well-Being

  • Lower stress and rumination (Koole et al., 1999; Wiesenfeld et al., 2001)

Koole, S. L., Smeets, K., van Knippenberg, A., & Dijksterhuis, A. (1999). The cessation of rumination through self-affirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(1), 111–125

or you can read this Link 2

  • Improve problem-solving under stress

Creswell JD, Dutcher JM, Klein WM, Harris PR, Levine JM. Self-affirmation improves problem-solving under stress. PLoS One. 2013 May 1;8(5):e62593. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062593. PMID: 23658751; PMCID: PMC3641050

  • Exhibit significant positive correlation to feelings of hopefulness and promote adaptive coping, goal achievement, and better health

Taber JM, Klein WMP, Ferrer R, Kent E. Optimism and Spontaneous Self-affirmation are Associated with Lower Likelihood of Cognitive Impairment and Greater Positive Affect among Cancer Survivors Annals of Behavioral Medicine 50(2) November 2015 

or read Link 2

 

Mindfulness:

  • Mindfulness Training Improves Quality of Life and Reduces Depression and Anxiety Symptoms Among Police Officers 

Mindfulness Training Improves Quality of Life and Reduces Depression and Anxiety Symptoms Among Police Officers. Front. Psychiatry, 26 February 2021

or read Link 2

  • Mindfulness training with First Responders leads to increased resilience and reduced burnout

Kaplan, J. B., Bergman, A. L., Christopher, M., Bowen, S., & Hunsinger, M. (2017). Role of resilience in mindfulness training for first responders. Mindfulness, 8(5), 1373–1380.

  • FRY Interview with Neurologist Gus Castellanos “The Benefits of Mindfulness for First Responders” – 2022

https://www.frycanada.com/video-registration/#NeurologistMindfulnessForFirstResponders

 

Meditation:

  • Meditation practices may impact physiological pathways that are modulated by stress and relevant to disease. Specifically, engagement in compassion meditation may reduce stress-induced immune and behavioral responses.

Thaddeus W.W.Pace, Lobsang TenzinNegi,  Daniel D.Adame, Steven P.Cole, Teresa I.Sivilli, Timothy D.Brown, Michael J.Issa, Charles L.Raison. Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 87-98 

  • Meditation increases grey matter and this benefit is part of the underlying neurological correlate of long-term meditation independent of a specific style and practice

Eileen Luders, Arthur W.Toga, Natasha Lepore, Christian Gaser. The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter. Neuroimage. Volume 45, Issue 3, 15 April 2009, Pages 672-678

 

Workplace Health Initiatives:

How to stop Panic Attacks in First Responders

F.R.Y. The APP can help overcome panic attacks in First Responders

We all experience Panic Attacks 

Today I want to talk about panic attacks in First Responders. I am speaking from my experience as a former Police Detective and Chief. Every one of us in our lives experiences a moment of anxiety, a moment when you desperately want to run away from something or fight it off. Sometimes we do not know the true cause of our panic, but it manifests and it presents in different way
 
Every one of us at a certain point have tried different ways to deal with anxiety. These include: training, listening to music, doing something to run away from that feeling, to dampen that feeling. Nothing seems to work as it is the aversion toward that feeling of anxiety that makes the same anxiety bigger and stronger.
 

Panic attacks in First Responders

In my past I have participated in different retreats in different retreat centers. I hoped that a structured environment could help me learn how to meditate and release that tension in my mind and so in my body. Most of the time my mind was all over the place even during the formal meditations. Why? I was fighting the unpleasurable. When you fight the moment you are at you create more stress and anxiety within you
 
The moment I realize that learning how to live with your “weakness” and welcome it whatever it is, that feeling becomes an asset. It transforms
 
When you acknowledge and “welcome” your feelings of discomfort, they become suspended in awareness. They are still there but beneath them there is this field of awareness that is holding them. The first step to take to break the cycle of anxiety and noisiness of the mind is to become aware of it.
 

How to break the cycle of anxiety with the breath

 
There are different ways to achieve this. One is the basic awareness of the breath when you meditate but also when you are out of your formal practice. Be aware of your breathing pattern without the intention of becoming a good breather. Observe your inhalation and exhalation, without trying to change it.
 
First Responders you can break the cycle of anxiety and the lessen the effect of a panic attacks with breath anytime and everywhere, without explaining to the people around you what you are doing. 
 

How to break the cycle of anxiety with meditation

 
You can use an open monitoring meditation and be focused on the sounds that are present around you. And you step back from labeling the sound as pleasant and unpleasant. You just bring your awareness to them, noticing how fleeting they are: they arise, remain for a moment, and then disappear
 
When images, thoughts, or emotions catch the attention of the mind, instead of fighting them you allow them to be part of your experience. You allow them to be present in awareness along with the sounds without clinging or rejecting them; not reacting to them.
 
There is no need to focus on a particular sound. Simply know that you are hearing sounds, noticing how the awareness can accommodate any sound, without you having to do anything.
 

The benefits of Meditation for First Responders is a topic well explained by Khube Rinpoce in our Videos tab. It is a beautiful tool you have to manage panic attacks and if you are interested to learn more you can read the study about the “Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders 

 

How to break the cycle of anxiety with mind-set

Another way is “shifting the thinking pattern”. Normally an anxious mind focuses on the negative and magnifies it. You can shift that pattern by thinking about the opposite, the positive instead of the negative. A simple way to do this is to bring in gratitude for everything you have that for sure is more than enough. No matter what the circumstances you are living in are, there is always so much to be grateful for.
 
Remember that you are not your thoughts, nor the chit chat in your mind, nor your emotions and feelings. You are “otherness” from all that.
 
First Responder, no matter if you are a Police, Firefighter, Paramedic or Dispatcher, whatever the feeling you are perceiving is, fear, anger, jealousy, remember those are just feelings. Let your mind to rest in awareness and allow everything to float in that field of mindfulness. Mindfulness-based interventions are effective to promote mental health and well-being in high-stress occupations like First Responders. It improves Quality of Life and reduces depression and anxiety symptoms. It nourishes First Responders’ physical, emotional, and mental fitness. It also contributes to the judicious and mindful use of First Responders’ power and authority, which can benefit society as a whole.
 

Let’s do it together. Let’s make our lives better. F.R.Y. is here to help. With F.R.Y. The APP you access to supportive tools 24/7. Learn more about how we help First Responders Organizations with F.R.Y. The APP

Sasy, F.R.Y. Director
www.FRYCanada.com

Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Approaches for First Responders: From Research to Clinical Practice

mindfulness-based approaches for First Responders

Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Approaches for First Responders’ Health

Our Director Sasy interviewed Doctor Gus Castellanos about the benefits of mindfulness-based approaches for First Responders. Gus shared with F.R.Y. his expertise in the field of medicine and Mindfulness with the goal to help First Responders. We truly thank him for this. The interview will be available on F.R.Y. website www.FRYCanada.com and socials in a couple of weeks as it is in postproduction.

Here we are posting an excerpt of the study touching on the same topic of mindfulness. The study has been conducted by Brian A. Chopko, Ph.D., Konstantinos Papazoglou, Ph.D., Robert C. Schwartz, Ph.D. The study is named “Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Approaches for First Responders: From Research to Clinical Practice” – 2018.

The full study is available to read on the American Journal of Psychotherapy

Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Approaches for First Responders’ Health – Excerpt of the study

First responders are psychosocially exposed to work-related stressors that occur frequently during required duties. Direct and vicarious symptoms of stress and interpersonal problems often affect first responders’ ability to perform effectively. They may have an impact on their personal lives. Mindfulness-based psychotherapies approaches such as ACT and MBCT have been shown to directly promote First Responders’ mental and physical health while providing increased resilience when facing work-related stressors. Generalizable mindfulness-based approaches can be used by psychotherapists, regardless of the specific theoretical approach chosen, to increase self-awareness, promote intentional responses, enhance self- compassion, and ultimately decrease suffering. Specific and easy-to-use mindfulness techniques can activate the PNS and reinforce a positive experience even in difficult situations by dampening the natural sympathetic nervous system and other potentially negative neural pathways that are prominent when someone encounters a critical incident. Incorporating mindfulness-based prevention and healing can therefore help psychotherapists build resilience and reduce symptoms of mental illness that are increasingly pervading the field. 

Generalizable Mindfulness-Based Approaches for First Responders’ Wellbeing 

In general, mindfulness theory explains that one’s mind takes on the qualities of what one dwells on. When someone expends effort struggling against something that is difficult or painful (e.g., a distressing experience during a critical incident), that person devotes more energy to the experience. Thus strengthening it in her or his mind. Acknowledging the experience, then accepting it as something one has gone through in the past and letting it go allows the experience to not become stuck mentally 

Acceptance, Present-moment and Meditative Exercises for First Responders’ Health

Developing calm, clear awareness involves being connected with what one experiences without judgment. When first responders are afraid, they know that they are afraid. As Bien stated, it takes little effort to feel sad when one is sad and angry when one is angry. Yet most people spend a great deal of effort trying to be unlike themselves. If first responders do so, they may be “worse off than if they knew nothing about mindfulness”. Present-moment and meditative exercises should be practiced throughout the day. Meditation, a form of purposeful focused attention, can be practiced during any activity rather than as an isolated and mechanical technique. One can be in the present moment with focused attention on one’s mind while eating, walking, speaking, and even during a critical incident. Learning acceptance does not imply passively submitting to one’s circumstances. “When you accept deeply the reality in which you find yourself, you know what to do and, just as importantly, what not to do”. This skill is important for first responders while on duty. Regardless of what someone wishes a situation to be, in the present moment the situation is exactly what it is. Accepting that fact, as difficult as it is during painful and confusing circumstances, is key to consciously responding as skillfully as possible. If one refuses to accept what is happening in the here and now, one may be acting on distorted and self-focused (rather than holistic and other focused) information based on regret about the past or fantasizing about the future. 

Compassion and Mindfulness-Based Strategies 

for First Responders’ Health

Finally, self-compassion is especially useful for first responders because it includes loving-kindness toward one’s self during difficult situations. Because first responders inevitably face situations in which prediction and control are lacking, feelings of remorse, guilt, anger, hopelessness, and helplessness may be evoked. Understanding this fact, showing support for one’s self, and believing in one’s intentions to help regardless of the hoped-for outcome can lead to a sense of self-caring needed during distressing events. As Desmond explained, psychotherapists can help clients develop a more loving, kind, and forgiving attitude through self-compassion, and those with mindfulness experience will find that self-compassion practices have the capacity to add new layers of depth to mindfulness-based psychotherapies. 

Hanson explained that one of the most effective ways to enhance mindfulness is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). As opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, the PNS, or “rest-and-digest” neural pathway, can help first responders more fully understand a situation and act with intention (both grounded in the prefrontal cortex), maintain steadiness of mind during difficult circumstances, and dampen the stress-response system, leading to increased relaxation and tranquility. Research has shown that psychotherapists can use the following generalizable mindfulness techniques to promote these qualities, in addition to many other benefits such as cardiovascular health, immune system strength, gastrointestinal health, and broader nervous system efficiency. 

How to Activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System

Large, Deep Exhale 

This method takes less than one minute to complete and can be accomplished in any location. Inhale as much air as possible, hold the breath for at least several seconds, and then exhale slowly. This technique expands the lungs more than usual, stimulating the PNS (which governs exhalation). 

Diaphragmatic Breathing 

This method uses the muscle beneath the lungs and takes one to two minutes. It is highly effective for reducing stress. Place one’s hand on the diaphragm, the area of one’s stomach ap- proximately two inches beneath the center of the rib cage, and breathe deeply so that the hand moves perpendicularly to the chest. The most effective way to use this technique is to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, which cools the hypothalamus and activates the PNS. Watching the diaphragm sensitizes one to how it works, and this exercise trains the diaphragm to function fully. 

Progressive Relaxation 

Progressive relaxation takes about 10 minutes to complete through a systematic focus on different parts of the body. This method involves bringing awareness to each body part patiently and successively, noticing sensations as they occur. Each body part is then consciously relaxed. Focus on larger sections of the body first (e.g., legs, arms, shoulders) and, if time permits, move to smaller body parts (e.g., eyes, fingers, head). 

Mindfulness Imagery 

This method takes about 10–15 minutes to complete. It focuses on developing mental activity such as pictures and scenery that evoke relaxation and present-centeredness. Mindfulness imagery almost immediately stimulates the PNS. Close the eyes and relax the body while visualizing a calming tranquil environment. The more physical senses that are included in the experience (e.g., seeing, hearing, touching), the more PNS activation will occur because imagery enhances right hemisphere processing related to nonverbal behaviours. 

Why F.R.Y. The Method is the Go-To-Tool for First Responders’ Wellbeing

All the strategies listed above are part of F.R.Y. The Method. Each F.R.Y. class starts with some Breathwork exercise where we emphasize the importance of a diaphragmatic breathing and we keep maintaining that pattern even during the practice of postures. One of our Breathing technique is “Asamavritti – Not Squared Breathing”. It requires having the exhalation longer than the inhalation. The relaxation with Yoga Nidra element, taking from the new neuroscience discoveries, are the second last segment of F.R.Y. The Method whose class closes with a final Meditation, a moment in which we cultivate focus, develop awareness and become familiar with qualities that can help our lives and our performance during our duty. The dynamic functional movement and the passive traction applied during the class make F.R.Y. The Method your to-go-tool to have a healthy body-mind system and build resilience.

We worked hard to make those tools available anytime, anywhere at a push of the button for First Responders. Hence F.R.Y. The APP was born and it is now available for you. You can download it through our website at First Responders Organization Tab, Training School Tab or Individual First Responders Tab.

Join our community for a better life movement.

F.R.Y.’s got your six.

The Impact of Mindfulness Training on Police Officer Stress, Mental Health, and Salivary Cortisol Levels.

Police Officer and F.R.Y. The APP

The Impact of Mindfulness Training on Police Officer’ Stress and Mental Health

The impact of mindfulness training on Police Officer has been scientific monitored.

Stress and repeated traumatic exposure have similar effects in the brain as experiencing a traumatic event launching PTSD. They contribute to elevate rates of mental illness and suicide in policing and violent and aggressive police officer’s behaviour that impacts the community they serve. 
Daily exposure to direct and vicarious trauma, organizational stressors and police-community tension contribute to elevate rates of post-traumatic stress, depression, alcoholism, and suicide in police officers. The fatigue and burnout and absence of effective emotion regulatory strategies in the law enforcement contribute to aggressive and discriminatory policing practices, leading to distrust and anger toward the police.

Prolonged activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that is the precursor of the stress response, what triggers the Sympathetic Nervous System and excessive cortisol release contribute to dysregulation of the biological systems influenced by cortisol. Among other deleterious consequences, prolonged HPA axis activation lessens cortisol’s ability to suppress inflammatory responses. Elevated inflammation is consequently associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome

Mindfulness Training to Reduce Stress and Improving First Responders’ Mental Health

Mindfulness training may reduce stress and aggression and improve Police Officers’ mental health. This  leads also to changes in biological outcomes and lasting benefits, as the study described below has shown. 

A group of Doctors conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 114 Police Officers from three Midwestern U.S. law enforcement agencies. Doctors assessed stress-related physical and mental health symptoms, blood-based inflammatory markers, and hair and salivary cortisol. The study is available to read on the Frontiers in Psychology website

The 114 police officers participated to an 8-week mindfulness intervention and the same assessments were repeated post-intervention and at 3-month follow-up. In summary, an 8-week mindfulness intervention for police officers led to improvements in distress, mental health, and sleep, and a lower cortisol awakening response. These benefits persisted at 3-month follow-up, suggesting that this training may buffer against the long-term consequences of chronic stress. 

If you want to understand more about the benefits of the meditation in its wide aspect listen to our Khube Rinpoche’s interview 

This is one of the reasons why F.R.Y. The Method includes the mindfulness training, as it is not the movement but the relationship with it that can be a game changer. Specific mental training and meditation are part of our program available anytime, anywhere at a push of a button on our F.R.Y. The APP. Download it on Google Play and Apple Store

Trust it, follow our directions for a better body-mind system, for that overall wellness you deserve.

F.R.Y. supports you