• Practicing Mindfulness Meditation to Cope with Stress

    As described in previous blog posts, mindfulness meditation has swiftly gained popularity as a self-care strategy for improving psychological health. It’s not only a hot media topic, but also an exploding area of new research. This post on mindfulness meditation from the Real Warriors Campaign gives information on the practice and explains how to get started.

    Mindfulness meditation is a popular form of meditation that can help you cope with psychological concerns. It can be combined with clinical care and aid in keeping a healthy lifestyle and staying mentally fit. Meditation can help you learn to better control your emotions and even memories of traumatic events. It can also help you become more aware and accepting of negative thoughts. You learn not to be judgmental about your thoughts and instead think of those thoughts and feelings as momentary impulses that will pass.

  • You Can Manage Holiday Stress, These Apps will Help
    Manage Holiday Stress!

    The holidays don’t always go as well as I’d like. Based on the story below from a Washington Post annual online sharing of holiday horror stories, that’s true for a lot of people:

    “We were doing a southwest theme so I was making a tequila lime turkey. I'm used to using wine for cooking and will often just dump more in if the sauce needs it. I checked on the turkey, realized the sauce needed a little more tequila, poured it over the turkey, mixed the sauce in the roasting pan, and put it back in the oven. About five minutes later I was standing by the sink. The oven door went flying open, there was a very loud WHOOOSH noise, and a giant fireball came shooting out the oven door.”
  • Don’t Let Current Events, News Take Control of Your Feelings
    News in Afghanistan

    A week ago tragedy struck Paris when it was attacked by terrorists. A disrupted city, dear to so many, created a ripple of despair worldwide. It seemed that the world was in mourning.

    At the same time, controversy grew, particularly on social media. Was it fair to only recognize Paris? What about the other attacks and violence around the world? Would the United States accept refugees from Syria and other countries with terrorist ties? Almost immediately, social media feeds and news outlets were baited into controversy and debate.

    We don’t have the answers to these questions. But, what we do know is that for our warriors, terrorism and violence are not new topics. Strong opinions and images of violence can be emotional triggers for those who have fought in conflicts or for family members who have lost loved ones in similar attacks.

  • Providers: Stay Present, Reduce Burnout with Mindfulness
    Department of Veterans Affairs

    We know mindfulness practices can help service members and veterans cope with their physical and psychological injuries. This practice is also a great tool for providers to build their own resilience while they treat wounded warriors.

    Treating members of the military can be a highly-rewarding experience, but it can also bring high levels of stress. Providers who treat service members, veterans and their families are at risk of experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout or secondary traumatic stress. Bearing witness to suffering and feeling powerless over other people’s pain can contribute to stress and fatigue, as do long hours, lack of social support and lack of downtime. Additionally, when providers are stressed and feel burned out, they may find it difficult to fully focus on their patients.

  • Presenters Teach Mindfulness and its Benefits at Summit

    Providers learned how mindfulness meditation can help treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) and had a chance to try its techniques for themselves at a presentation last week.

    During the 2015 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Summit, Dr. Panakkal David, a psychiatrist with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, discussed three key concepts in mindfulness: attention, awareness and present-moment experience.

    Although mindfulness is sometimes confused with relaxation training, the two are very different, Panakkal David said.

    “Relaxation training helps you feel better temporarily, but it does not produce the same change [in the brain],” Panakkal David said.

  • 5 Tips to Include Mindfulness in Your Everyday Life
    Mindfulness Coach

    During the past few months on the DCoE Blog we’ve explored the benefits of mindfulness meditation and shared steps on how to practice, but it can be a whole new challenge to implement the practice into daily life. Work, duty, deployment, kid’s soccer practice, medical appointments, family time, relationships, exercise, and sleep — it seems our lives keep getting fuller. Even so, it’s possible to fit in a brief mindfulness session that could keep us from feeling overwhelmed by the rest of our lives. Check out the strategies below:

    1. Start small: Start with five minutes and gradually increase the length of time as you feel more comfortable.
    2. Download an app: You don’t have to practice alone. Many find a guided mindfulness meditation practice helpful. Mindfulness Coach, a mobile app created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology and the Department of Veterans Affairs, is free and offers meditation tips to bring with you on the go.