Two new studies highlight the benefits of mindfulness training for police officers, firefighters, and other professionals who work in high-pressure jobs.
The University of Miami has just completed research into the effects of mindfulness on police officers and firefighters. The officers participated in a short mindfulness training program that educated them on the principals of mindfulness [READ: Mindfulness For Beginners].
Their instruction was specifically tailored to the demands of being police officers and firefights. The results showed that mindfulness improves their attention and resilience and ultimately made them better equipped to handle the pressure and stress of their positions. This suggests that other professional in high pressure jobs would benefits from mindfulness training too.
Cognitive neuroscientist neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences Amishi Jha tells THE DAILY MEDITATION that Mindfulness Based Attention Training (MBAT )offers big benefits for those in the emergency services. MBAT is an innovative program that was created in 2013 specifically to help professionals in high pressure situations, such as those faced by emergency response personnel. The focus of the training is on concentration, body awareness, connection and open-monitoring (which is a form of awareness in which we are not focusing on on single thing but instead “open” to the entirety of our environment).
Jha states, “For firefighters, soldiers, as well as medical professionals, business leaders and many others—success matters, not only for themselves but for all they serve and lead,” Jha said. “Many of our participants are highly motivated to learn how to gain a ‘mental edge’ so they can succeed in very demanding circumstances. In these projects, we contextualized our training to highlight why and how mindfulness training offered in the MBAT program provides tools and skills to succeed, even under Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) circumstances.”
The research was published in the journal Psychiatry Research. It investigated the effects of mindfulness on police offers and firefighters and particularly how mindfulness training increases their resilience.
The researchers examined attention, resilience and mood in 121 Miani-Dade firefighters who were assigned to one of three groups. The first group was taught mindfulness, the second relaxation, and the third received no training at all. Both training groups saw increased resilience. However, the firefighters who were given a four-week mindfulness training course saw the most improvement. They also noted improved mood and attention in the mindfulness group.
Of course, it isn’t just police officers and firefighters who can benefit from the increased resilience offered by mindfulness. We all face stress and pressure, and we can all benefit from being more able to cope with difficult situations [READ: Remaining positive in hard times].
Mindfulness gives us the ability to remain mentally calm during times of extreme stress. By learning mindfulness today, we equip ourselves for any challenges life throws at us tomorrow.