By, Detective Rodger Ruge (Ret.)
There is a pattern to a career in Law Enforcement that has been present for decades, a pattern that has produced profound results, all of which are moving us in the wrong direction. The pattern has created statistical probability for early death and increased risk to the major lifestyle diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s-dementia and cancer. The pattern predisposes us to cognitive decline which directly impacts our ability to achieve peak field performance. The pattern has us experiencing among the highest percentages of divorce, breakup and relationship dysfunction of any profession. And, the pattern makes us more susceptible to post-traumatic stress and suicidal ideation.
Sifting the pattern requires us to focus on regular resilience practices to improve our tactical abilities in the field during critical incidents and all aspects of our physical and mental health. Let’s take a look at some of the important, scientifically validated and warrior tested practices, that can take our abilities to the next level.
Parasympathetic Restoration. By default, the nature of the profession has us experiencing low to high level stress constantly. This creates sympathetic nervous system dominance. Over time, this causes the breakdown in our mental and physical health. The science is clear; this result is not for a select few, it applies to everyone. If you want to avoid the predictable pattern, then the following parasympathetic, restorative practices offer a counterbalance.
Sleep. First, second and third on the list of resilience practices is sleep. Getting a consistent 7.5-to-8-hour window of deep, restorative sleep is essential.
Meditation. Warrior cultures have dedicated a significant amount of time to developing high-level skills in meditation practices for thousands of years. In fact, in modern times, many U.S. special forces personnel are required to learn meditation.
Dorsal Vagal Complex. Our Vagal nerve impacts virtually all systems of our body. Keeping excellent ‘Vagal tone’ is essential to enhancing our resilience. Sleep and meditation both enhance the Vagus nerve’s ability, and there are a host of additional Vagal toning exercises that can be added to daily resilience practices.
Breathwork. Focusing on aspects of breathing for combat application as well as parasympathetic restoration is among the most powerful of resilience practices. The good news is the techniques are easy to learn and apply to our daily resilience routines.
Brain balancing. Getting our brain to function at peak potential sounds obvious, and yet this is among the most difficult things to achieve when the hormones of stress begin to affect cognitive function. Working out your brain, like you work out your body, is the key, and there are numerous ways to do this with simple brain balancing exercises.
Diet. Garbage in, garbage out. Eating a diet that is predominantly from nature and avoiding processed foods is the key. Where does one start? Sugar and simple carbohydrates have the most deleterious impacts on physical and mental health. Reduce your consumption and you will notice a difference immediately.
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About The Author:
Rodger Ruge is a retired Santa Rosa PD detective and California law enforcement master instructor. Rodger, a dedicated mindfulness and resilience practitioner, has designed and presented wellness, mindfulness and resiliency training programs to law enforcement for decades. Rodger is proud to offer his Tactical Resilience program through his partnership with 21 CLETS, LLC.