|(Click thumbnail to see the episode)|
By prioritizing the mental well-being of first responders, we can not only improve their overall health but also enhance their ability to perform their duties effectively. Resilience training, counseling services, and creating a supportive environment are just some of the ways we can promote their mental strength.
Rodger Ruge, a renowned mental health expert and advocate, has dedicated his career to supporting the well-being of first responders. As a former police officer himself, Ruge intimately understands the unique challenges they face on a daily basis. With this vast knowledge and experience, Rodger and Dr. Renee Thornton have developed a groundbreaking approach called Navigating Adversity: Tactical Self-Care for First Responders.
Through practical strategies and tools, Navigating Adversity equips first responders with the skills to take care of themselves while fulfilling their demanding roles. The program incorporates mindfulness techniques, stress reduction practices, and effective communication strategies to promote overall well-being.
Rodger shared the following with us in his recent interview on Responder Resilience:
Recently, I've shifted my format to writing books, because a book empowers the individual to their own learning, their own growth. Navigating Adversity: Tactical Self-Care for First Responders is one of the books I wrote with Dr. Renee Thornton. It’s a lifelong resource that first responders can call upon so that when critical incidents occur, they are prepared to Navigate Adversity. Another nice aspect of writing a book that calls out the issues, but also offers solutions. Things you can try and experiment with to find what really resonates with you. And the beauty in all of that is no one has to know you're doing it.
So if you're feeling a little self-conscious about studying breath work or doing a meditation practice, or maybe you're going to re-engage with your spirituality in a different way than you have before, but you're worried about what people might think of you, here's a book. Study it all you want, practice it all you want and don't tell anyone if you want. Let's empower the individual.
What ends up happening here is a ripple effect because all of a sudden the person who starts doing this work will shift. It is impossible not to. And then people notice, and then people start going, “Hey, you seem like you're really relaxed and happy and peaceful. What are you doing?”
“Well, I found this and I found that and I've been doing this and that, and it's just been helping me a lot.”
“Really. Tell me more about that.”
And then we create a little grassroots ripple where the individual's empowered. And if you have a highly dysfunctional organization, now it doesn't matter. You have empowered yourself to this enhancement, this upleveling of your human potential. How awesome is that?
A lot of folks really struggle with creating some form of behavioral change. A paradigm change is really difficult to achieve. But somebody said something interesting to me: It's about doing inch pebbles, and inch pebbles lead to milestones.
As a resilience tool, meditation is interesting. When I first started meditating, and this is not an exaggeration in the least, I couldn't even sit for 60 seconds. Now I've worked my way up to six hours.
Don't let that metric concern you because even two or three minutes actually counts. I literally teach people in meditation. The very first thing I teach them is a three minute meditation. And studies have shown that if you do this quieting of the mind for three minutes, you'll stay in a parasympathetically restorative state for up to six hours. Imagine if just between each emergency call you did a meditation for three minutes, you don't need to close your eyes, you don't need to be in a cave in the Himalayas staring at a candle flame while a guru rubs patchouli oil on your feet.
You can do this very quickly, reset yourself. And by the way, just so we're clear, these practices have been part of ancient warrior societies for millennia. This is about stepping fully into being a warrior.
I challenge anyone to try to argue with me that there's no benefit to meditation. Try. You can't do it. It improves every metric you can come up with. And it can be done quickly and efficiently. And here's the beautiful part: When you begin to have some success and prove this to yourself, which is a key, do not believe a thing any of us are saying to you. Go out and experience it and prove it to yourself, then you own it. It's not an intellectual exercise, you’ve got to go play and be grateful.
Now imagine you're driving really fast and you don't have this calming skill. Your adrenaline's coming up, the cortisol and 1400 other stress chemicals are flooding your body, preparing you, and you're getting more and more and more amped. You arrive on scene.. What would be the difference if you got out of your vehicle alert, ready, calm, centered, not mentally hijacked, with your physiology completely under your control. Do you think your cognitive processing would be better? I'm telling you, it is an absolute game changer to own meditation. And it starts with very small practices. And what is really cool is when you start having those experiences, you want to do it more and more because the return on investment is so profound.
It's really hard to go into a room of first responders who are indoctrinated into their culture and talk about things that might feel a little bit threatening, or certainly outside the box. And how's everybody going to take this? I've been in some tough rooms, and if I can get a room full of hardened police officers to meditate, you know you're getting somewhere. You make it safe.
I think by showing the science and showing by your heart that you're really there for them and that you've been where they are is the key. This is what separates everything and begins to help them wrap their mind around the beauty of what’s possible.
Rodger Ruge is a retired police officer, master law enforcement instructor, resilience coach and published author. Rodger took his diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder into his own hands and 'cured' what most psychologists say can only be managed by taking a deep dive into every alternative modality he could discover. Rodger now shares his discoveries with other first responders to empower them to the grandest expression of their human potential. His books include Keeping it all Together: Building Resilience at Home while Serving the Community (with Dr. Renee Thornton), Navigating Adversity: Tactical Self-Care for First Responders (with Dr. Renee Thornton), Reasoned Resiliency: A Rational Devotional For First Responders (with Joseph Courtemanche), and The Warrior's Mantra.
HOW THERAPISTS DIAGNOSE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
By: Jessica Connell, LCSW
GET TO KNOW YOUR ANXIETY AND STRESS
HEALING, STRESS AND THE PARASYMPATHETIC SYSTEM (part 1)
Written by: Roberta Kline, MD
Stress is part of life, and comes in many forms including physical, emotional, mental and environmental. Foods we eat, unhealthy relationships, difficulties at work, toxins in our environment, even poor posture or lack of sunshine can all create stress on our bodies. But when stress is catastrophic or becomes chronic, it creates imbalances in this functioning that are much more likely to promote disease while at the same time preventing healing from taking place. 
With people under record levels of chronic stress, it is no wonder we have an epidemic of people suffering from all sorts of health issues and chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, pain, anxiety, depression, infertility, cancer, autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s …. These are just some of the many health conditions that have been linked to diet and lifestyle including chronic stress. [2, 3] But how does this work? And is meditation the answer to reversing this trend? Science is revealing some interesting clues.
Copyright© 2023- Intermediaworx Inc/ ResponderMedia, LLC. All rights reserved.
Copyright Notice: The materials provided on this website/web-based article are copyrighted and the intellectual property of the publishers/producers of IntermediaWorx, Inc.. It is provided publicly strictly for informational purposes within non-commercial use and not for purposes of resale, distribution, public display or performance. Unless otherwise indicated on this web based page, sharing, re-posting, re-publishing of this work is strictly prohibited without due permission from the publishers. Also, certain content may be licensed from third-parties. The licenses for some of this Content may contain additional terms. When such Content licenses contain additional terms, we will make these terms available to you on those pages (which his incorporated herein by reference).The publishers/producers of this site and its contents such as videos, graphics, text, and other materials published are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, please always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health provider. Do not postpone or disregard any professional medical advice over something you may have seen or read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately. This website does not support, endorse or recommend any specific products, tests, physicians, procedures, treatment opinions or other information that may be mentioned on this site. Referencing any content or information seen or published in this website or shared by other visitors of this website is solely at your own risk. The publishers/producers of this Internet web site reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify, disable access to, or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, all or any part of this Internet web site or any information contained thereon without liability or notice to you.