You are here: Home / HPRC Blog
RSS Feed for Mind Body

HPRC Blog

Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body

Flexibility: One key to family resilience

Learn how to be more flexible in your relationships with loved ones.

Your flexibility in relationships is about being able to adapt the way you think and communicate with those around you. Flexibility impacts couple and family functioning, and it’s a key component of family resilience. It helps lessen the impact of daily stressors on your health and wellness too.

As an individual, you embody a level of mental flexibility that influences how effective you are at engaging and communicating with your partner, friends, coworkers, and children. Being mentally flexible means you’re able to shift your mindset, attitudes, and behaviors based on what’s happening in your relationship. This shift helps you interact with potentially stressful situations in different ways and perhaps lead to more productive outcomes.

In relationships, romantic or otherwise, flexibility means adjusting to and accommodating each other. When there’s flexibility in your relationships, others feel supported and respected. You feel you can depend on each other as well. On the other hand, inflexibility is an unwillingness to be open with your thoughts and feelings, and refusing to adjust your own mindset or behaviors. Inflexibility in parenting also can lead to higher anxiety in moms and dads. Still, there are ways to be flexible in your relationships.

  • Consider the other person’s perspective and compromise when making decisions together.
  • Identify clearly defined roles and rules within your family and other groups, while knowing that these might change, especially during stressful events.
  • Strive to find a comfort level in knowing that changes and challenges are unavoidable.
  • Be firm about rules when needed but open to suggestions as a leader in your family or other groups.
  • Nurture your relationships by offering guidance and being a good listener.
  • Prioritize your team and teamwork—whether you’re at home or on a mission.

 

Posted 03 July 2017

PTSD and sleep disruption: Which to tackle when?

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: PTSD, Sleep
In this article, learn how to decide on the order in which to pursue treatment options when you’re experiencing both PTSD symptoms and sleep disruption.

PTSD and insomnia often are connected. And while there are effective treatments available for both, deciding the order in which to tackle them can feel like a challenge. Is it better to treat the PTSD first in the expectation that addressing the PTSD will improve your sleep? Or is it better to treat your sleep issues first to help with later treatment of PTSD? Or is it possible to do both at the same time? In this article, guest experts discuss these three options to inform your decision on how to seek treatment for PTSD and insomnia. Read more...

Mindfulness in military environments

Filed under: Mindfulness, PTSD
Find out how practicing mindfulness can be useful in combat and austere environments.

Mindfulness training, or the practice of training your mind to stay in the present moment, offers many benefits, particularly for Service Members. These vary from pain and stress management related to post-deployment and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to supporting improved emotional states and emotion regulation. Mindfulness training also can enhance your ability to perform optimally in military environments—in garrison, during training, or in theater.

Mindfulness training cultivates your ability to focus on what’s happening internally in your surroundings. Mind-wandering, worrying about what’s coming down the pipeline, or even trying to evaluate what happened in the past can keep you from attending to details critical for the present. A mindfulness practice also encourages you to experience a situation without judgment (thinking, “This is neither good nor bad”) and with acceptance (thinking, “This is what’s happening right now”). 

In garrison or during dwell times, mindfulness can help you cultivate stronger relationships with friends and family and make the most of your time to recover and restore energy. Warfighters lead busy lives, and time with loved ones can feel limited. Mindfulness helps you maximize those precious moments and cope with difficult emotions that can impede communication and intimacy.

Mindfulness during training

In training environments, mindfulness helps Warfighters stay safe while acquiring new skills and tactics. It also aids with their memory and recall on difficult tests and qualifications. For example, Warfighters need to be able to block out distractions and tune into their physiology to obtain optimal performance in shooting tasks for weapons qualifications. Managing your mind-and-body experience of performance anxiety during the evaluative stages is critical for being able to shoot a weapon with accuracy and consistency.

Mindfulness in theater

Your situational awareness is enhanced by mindfulness in a combat environment too. Mind-wandering and judging an experience can create unnecessary stimuli that interfere with your ability to connect with the internal and external resources you need to accomplish your task, avert disaster, or respond to crisis. Warfighters are less lethal and resourceful in combat when their minds wander and they’re unable to fully focus on the situation at hand. Some research shows that mindfulness training—even for relatively short periods of time (for example, 8 hours over 8 weeks)—improves focus in Service Members. That is, they’re able to keep their minds from wandering and have fewer lapses in performance during a given task.

Combat environments are often characterized as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA), which can easily lead to sensory overload. You might feel overwhelmed too. Cultivating mindfulness can help increase your tolerance of these environments and impede thinking traps about uncertain outcomes, enabling you to hone your skills of attending to the right stimuli at the right time. Mindfulness training also has been found to be effective for managing and tolerating heat pain for both experienced and inexperienced meditators. In one pain-threshold study, some participants who used mindfulness training were able to tolerate higher temperatures before they reported feeling pain, and they were able to endure heat stimuli for longer durations.

Debrief

One of the first steps in mindfulness involves pausing, taking a deep breath, and bringing your attention inward for a moment. For more information on how to begin a mindfulness practice, read HPRC’s “A mindfulness meditation primer” and watch the video below.

Posted 21 June 2017

PTSD and sleep disruption: Available treatments

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: PTSD, Sleep
Highly effective behavioral treatments exist for both PTSD and sleep disruption. Learn more about the types of interventions available to resolve symptoms.

This article provides an overview of evidence-based treatments for PTSD and insomnia. The first article in this 3-part guest-authored series—“A double whammy”—explored the potential interrelationship between these two conditions. Not only is sleep disruption a common symptom of PTSD, but the two can interact in a cycle that can make both worse and can be hard to break. Understanding your treatment options and having more knowledge about available treatments can help you engage in productive discussions with your healthcare providers and make informed choices about treatment. Read more...

PTSD and sleep disturbance: A double whammy

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Learn how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and insomnia work to create a vicious cycle.

Sleep problems and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two common difficulties experienced by Service Members. They can share a complicated relationship, so for those experiencing or at risk for this double whammy, as well as for those treating patients, it’s important to understand how they can influence each other in a cycle. In a series of 3 articles, beginning with this one, guest experts explore the connection between PTSD and sleep, examine the different ways to approach treatment, and introduce evidence-based therapies available for both PTSD and insomnia. Read more...

How PTSD affects brain “circuitry”

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Brain, PTSD
Learn how PTSD affects your brain “circuitry,” confusing symptoms of threat and safety.

If you’re experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to understand how the different parts of your brain function. Post-traumatic stress is a normal response to traumatic events. However, PTSD is a more serious condition that impacts brain function, and it often results from traumas experienced during combat, disasters, or violence.

Your brain is equipped with an alarm system that normally helps ensure your survival. With PTSD, this system becomes overly sensitive and triggers easily. In turn, the parts of your brain responsible for thinking and memory stop functioning properly. When this occurs, it’s hard to separate safe events happening now from dangerous events that happened in the past. Read more...

Mindfully remembering fallen service members

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
This Memorial Day, take a mindful moment to remember those who have served honorably and made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Memorial Day marks a national day of remembrance to honor those who lost their lives while protecting our country and values. Our fallen service members deserve our utmost respect, so take some time to mindfully acknowledge and respect their sacrifices.

Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating your attention and focus in a way that allows you to deeply appreciate the present moment. The practice of mindful remembrance also can help you more fully acknowledge the sacrifices of others. Whatever your plans this Memorial Day, try to engage in the 3 R’s:

Reflect: Stop, take a deep breath, and reflect on what you value most in your life. Appreciate what’s around you: your home, treasured friends and family, health, and career. Then internally shift attention: Tune into your heart beating and chest rising and falling with each breath.

Recognize: There are many people who enable the life you lead. They contribute in both small and big ways too. So pause and thank those who make things possible. Mindful appreciation can amplify your ability to feel gratitude toward people and events that you often might take for granted.

Remember: Think of someone you know who has lost his or her life in service to our country. Say the service member’s name out loud. Repeat it to yourself. Take a few quiet moments to recall a special memory, photograph, or simply what this person meant to you. Or commit to reading or sharing a story about a Warfighter whose actions you revere.

Remembering the fallen is a sacred and enduring responsibility that should be front and center at all Memorial Day festivities, and this practice can start with you. To learn about an organization that has created the goal of mindfully recognizing every fallen service member since September 11, 2001, visit the Mindful Memorial Day page. 

Watch HPRC’s video below for more on how to cultivate a mindful remembrance practice.

Posted 22 May 2017

Take responsible action for your mental health

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
During Mental Health Awareness Month, HPRC takes a look at common barriers to seeking support for mental health concerns. Learn what you can do to get the help you need.

Warfighters lead stressful lives, so it’s important to seek support and resources to help you cope and stay ready for duty. While many wouldn’t hesitate to see their doctor about a physical ailment, asking for help to address psychological struggles can feel overwhelming.

Nearly 44 million adults in the U.S.—about 1 in 5—experience a mental illness every year. In the military population, those statistics are even higher. More than 1.6 million service members have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and almost 19% have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. And only half of those who need mental health support actually seek treatment.

There are many barriers that people encounter when seeking mental health support from outside sources. Here are examples of what the most common barriers sound like and some recommended courses of action (COA) you can take to start moving past whatever’s standing in your way. Read more...

How TBI affects couples' relationships

A traumatic brain injury not only changes your loved one, it also changes your relationship as a couple.

When your partner suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), changes to your relationship are likely. Both of you can experience a range of emotions as you adapt to new expectations in your relationship, but you can weather the changes. TBIs can occur without warning, and the path to recovery isn’t always clear, which can add strain to your romantic relationship. Read more...

Lavender and stress reduction

Filed under: Anxiety, Lavender, Stress
Your sense of smell causes a variety of emotional responses. Can certain smells help you feel better?

Your sense of smell is a powerful tool when it comes to how you interact with your environment. Certain smells can alert you to danger or caution, while others can invoke feelings of relaxation or alertness. Lavender, in particular, might help reduce stress and anxiety.

The general properties of lavender oil are antibacterial, antifungal, sedative, and antidepressant among other things. While its pleasant smell might not physiologically change your stress response (that is, affect things such as cortisol, a stress hormone), it might just make you feel better. People have reported feeling less depressed and more relaxed when they inhale the scent of lavender. While this can be helpful for general anxiety, it might not be as helpful if your anxiety levels get too high.

Some also have reported that smelling lavender before bedtime helped them fall asleep more easily, wake less during the night, and feel less daytime fatigue. Next time you’re feeling stressed, try taking some deep breaths—and maybe have some lavender nearby to help. It comes in different forms such as essential oils, incense, Epsom salts, and whole herb. Find which one works best for you.

For more information about lavender, read the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health's web page. Visit HPRC’s Stress Management Strategies section to learn more about coping with stress too.

Posted 09 May 2017

RSS Feed for Mind Body