Stress Rescue: The New Science of Rational Resilience™
February 3, 2021 Peer Powered Performance
This article was written for members of our firefighting community but the principles apply to anyone who would like to reduce the influence of stress on their own lives as well as those they lead.
Remember when you didn’t worry about storing turnout gear, and smelling like smoke was a badge of honor?
That was before we learned the alphabet soup of carcinogens packed in every plume permeating every pore?
Toxicity comes not just from what we breath and touch but, how our experiences touch us.
We are exposed not just to noxious fumes but infectious emotions.
Firefighting was reported to be the number one most stressful job in 2015[i] and fatality statistics presented annually by the National Fire Protection Association point to stress-related incidents as the principal cause of firefighter fatalities[ii].
Imagine how much greater the burden for the Chiefs responsible for making the decisions that put others in harm’s way.
I have been railing against the evils of stress for decades. Chronic stress has been shown to be a factor in everything from heart disease to obesity, depression, divorce, infection and insomnia.
Studies have found that as many as 37% of firefighters may exhibit symptoms of PTSD[iii] and those results seldom reflect the nearly 69% of fire services staffed by volunteers.
Few risk factors have been so universally demonized as stress but, WHAT IF it is how our bodies process stress and not the experiences themselves that drives dis-ease.
Are there people who, given the same circumstances, actually benefit from stress?
More importantly are these stress-resilient few simply benefactors of heredity or can anyone learn to free themselves and their families from the insidious side of stress?
In 1998 thirty thousand adults in the United States were asked two questions. How much stress they had experienced in the past year and did they believe stress was harmful to their health.
The results are what we have come to expect. High levels of stress increased the chance of dying by 43%.
Before you add to your life insurance consider this. The increase only applied to those who believed stress was harmful. Those who had high levels of stress but did not believe stress was harmful had even lower mortality rates than those with the lowest levels of stress.
What saved their lives were not platitudes of positivity but the curative powers of their own chemistries. Our bodies are the pharmacists of our futures. Maybe even more importantly the internal chemistries we create for ourselves are contagious.
Stressed out leaders create stressed out cultures.
Face it you have a very stressful jobs. The question is; are you going to take as much care of what’s inside of you as you do with what you put on the outside.
This is not a touchy-feely hum-in-harmony kind of session. It is a serious look at the New Science of Rational Resilience™.
- How cigarette companies promoted our fear of stress.
- Why “rat research” doesn’t translate to rat-ional results.
- How studies of PSTD in accident victims demonstrates the positive role of Cortisol and DHEA in learning and recovery.
- Why the strong and silent or those who “tough it out” suffer the most.
- How changing stories changes lives
- Why avoiding another’s pain enhances your own.
- How to displace mindless stress with mindful meaning.
Stress can be debilitating, even life threatening
Stress Rescue: The New Science of Rational Resilience™ is available in keynote mindset overviews, day long retreats and consultative interventions.
[i] FireRescue1, Jan 22, 2015
[iii] National Fire Protection Association Journal, Trouble in Mind May 2, 2014