Somewhere along the path of life most adults stop playing. I don't mean sitting on your phone reading Facebook, or scrolling Instagram. I mean PLAYING. Playing basketball, pickle ball, video games, cards, Jenga, frisbee...PLAYING.
I want to make an argument that adults need to play, just like children. Something I have noticed and science backs this up, that when adults play they have an elevated state of joy. This joyous state bonds social groups making cooperation more likely, it heals emotional turmoil, produces vast neurotransmitters, it boosts productivity and innovation. The thing about "PLAY" is it works off. What researchers have found is the cerebellum lights up and the frontal lobe is engaged. The right side of the cerebellum produces a state of connectedness. The right side of the cerebellum, as you might know, is responsible for most creative discovery. The place where artists construct and musicians create. It's interesting that this is where "play" highlights. The frontal lobe also is lit up. The place where decision making, detail orientation and executive function is found.
For all these reasons, firefighters and other high stress, hyper vigilant groups should be encouraged to "play". I want to talk about this because so often the fire service prides it self on traditions in training, policy making, and our obsession with outward perception of what society sees. We care more about looking good then actually going the extra mile. I want to argue that not making time to play, that forcing our people to be sleep deprived and policy following doesn't lead to patient, emotionally stable individuals. We need balance. We need time to blow off stress, connect with our crew, get into that space where we joyously laugh. I want to challenge the traditional thought. I want my crew to go the extra mile. Do the extra work to improve our societies emergencies. If that means more play, I'm in.
Check out the video with PH.D Stuart Brown and the article below.
Here are more reasons why saunas are proving to have wonderful cardiovascular and health/life span effects. Enjoy!!
Regular sauna users may have fewer chronic diseases
Lisa Rapaport5 MIN READ
(Reuters Health) - People who visit the sauna frequently may be less likely to develop heart and lung diseases or to get the flu than those who rarely go, a research review suggests.
FILE PHOTO: A view of a sauna in Gdynia November 27, 2011. REUTERS/Peter Andrews Past studies on the health benefits of saunas have yielded mixed results because they focused on many different types of sauna and were too small or brief to assess long-term health outcomes from routine use, the authors note in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
In the current study, researchers examined only the type of sauna typically used in Finland, where saunas are engrained in daily life for many adults. These saunas usually have temperatures of 80 to 100 degrees Celsius (176 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit) and very dry air, with relative humidity of about 10 to 20 percent.
When they looked at research focused on Finnish saunas, the study team found routine use associated with a lower risk of many common chronic health problems as well as a lower risk of premature death from all causes.
“Beyond pleasure and relaxation, evidence suggests that sauna bathing has several health benefits, which include reduction in the risk of vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke and memory diseases,” said lead author Dr. Jari Laukkanen of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.
“Sauna is also related to a lower risk of pulmonary diseases including asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Laukkanen said by email.
One study in the current analysis, for example, found that going to the sauna at least four times a week was associated with a roughly 50 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease. This study included 2,315 people and also linked regular sauna use to a 40 percent lower risk of premature death from all causes.
Another study in the analysis compared the effects of using the sauna for 19 minutes versus 11 minutes. In this study, longer sauna sessions were linked to a 17 percent lower risk of premature death from all causes, as well as a 36 percent lower chance of death from heart disease.
In a third study in the analysis, with 1,621 participants, using the sauna at least four times weekly was tied to a 47 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than going once weekly.
Yet another study linked at least four weekly sauna visits with about 66 percent lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than going just once a week.
Two other studies found going to the sauna at least four times a week associated with a 41 percent lower risk of respiratory diseases and a 37 percent lower chance of pneumonia than going once weekly.
The review wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how regular sauna visits might directly reduce the risk of developing or dying from common health problems. The researchers also did not pool and analyze data to examine the risk of certain outcomes across multiple smaller studies.
Still, it’s possible that regular sauna bathing helps reduce blood pressure, inflammation, oxidative stress, circulation of bad cholesterol and stiffness in the arteries, the authors note.
“When the body is exposed to the heat, blood vessels in the skin dilate (become wider) to bring blood from the inside of the body to the skin surface where heat can be exchanged with the environment,” said Daniel Gagnon of the University of Montreal, who wasn’t involved in the study.
“This response causes the heart to beat faster which in turn increases the circulation of blood throughout the body,” Gagnon said by email. “Increased blood circulation is generally beneficial for blood vessel health, and this could be one reason why sauna bathing is associated with so many health benefits, especially those related to heart and blood vessel diseases.”
Risks of sauna use include dizziness and dangerously low blood pressure, especially with longer sessions.
SOURCE: bit.ly/2MbKoqe Mayo Clinic Proceedings, online July 31, 2018.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Doctor Beth Murphy said something to this effect last week. She said it differently, but the impact it made was the same. "You guys spend more time taking care of your apparatus's then you do your people." I stopped in my tracks. I think we all did. All ,as in the Marysville peer support team. We spend more time taking care and maintaining our rigs then we do taking care of ourselves. We schedule oil changes, tires rotations. When things aren't working the rigs go immediately into the shop, no questions asked. When was the last time you scheduled a visit with a counselor to just check in? Or a better question, Why don't we treat ourselves better than a piece of machinery?
We run ourselves ragged with work, appointments, second and third jobs, college, kids and life. It gets away from us. We are so busy trying to be everything to everyone. We end up hurting ourselves.
I'm not trying to shame anyone, I know all our circumstances are different. What I am posing is a question, When was the last time you treated your body/mind/spirit with the maintenance attitude of that of you vehicle?
Please reach out to myself or any of the peer members if you need help finding a counselor.
We have some resources to help you and your family find someone you enjoy talking to.
It has always amazed me what you can learn from people. If you listen and ask the right questions what you can see in them. What motivates them, what they do. People are more than the exterior they present. The fire service culture has created a carbon copy of what a fire fighter looks like; athletic, clean cut, a "yes, sir" attitude, mechanical aptitude, etc... It's only when you work side by side you learn the layers these people have. It's in their strengths, their passions and their vulnerabilities that you learn what their true WORK is. Their life's work. It's that, "thing" that makes your heart beat a little faster, that gets you up in the morning and keeps you up late. You do the work because you know it matters. It will improve someones life and experiences. You know the work you are doing will help someone else up.
I see the work we all do. I see it in your training, in your coaching, in your beautiful work ethic, and the care you give your families. I hope we all keep doing our lives work, to enrich our families, friends, our departments.
Enjoy this video. It's the difference between your job and your work.
This Ted Talk completely spoke to me. I think in the fire service we put on our armor/ego and pretend that we are invincible. We shut off emotions to deal with catastrophes and sometimes we have a hard time turning those emotions back on. I'm sure I'm not alone, I'll admit that there have been times in my life where that callous feels too thick, too real, and I've felt numb. Numb and guilty for feeling that way. I think this video high lights that sometimes the hardest thing for us to do, show our vulnerability, is the only way to transform OUR lives and the people around us. To love ourselves, our families, and each other in a more genuine and authentic way.
Check out this short video. A friend showed it to me and I have to say, its pretty interesting! Hope you enjoy and spend some time visualizing your happy, your goals, your path.
I truly geek out over gardening. I love the prepping of the dirt, the labor that goes into weeding, raking, roto-tilling. I love the smell of the amended soil. The daily watering, the harvest, the clean up. I seriously love it all. I think the reason I come back to gardening every spring is the way gardening makes me feel. My favorite thing to do when I come home from an all nighter, think mid July, is to go out to my garden, turn on the water and walk around. I observe the changes that took place while I was gone and feel the sense of peace knowing everything is thriving.
Gardening has a way of connecting people back to the earth by lowering our cortisol levels, stress hormones. Check out this article below. Maybe building mini station gardens, (flowers, vegetables, fruit trees) would benefit us more than just our station meals? Maybe they would become our focal point for decompression, relaxation, and a place where we could share our harvest with the community?
Petal Power: Why Is Gardening So Good For Our Mental Health?10 ways horticulture helps us heal, overcome anxiety and lift low mood
Posted May 13, 2015
By: Sarah Rayner
"Time and again research reveals that gardening has a positive effect on our mental health, so let's explore what it is that seems to make horticulture so healing.
Source: Sarah Rayner1. Looking after plants gives us a sense of responsibility.
I remember when my mother gave me a little spot in our garden to tend. I must have been about five. I demarcated it with stones and planted forget-me-nots and ‘poached eggs' flowers that still make me smile.
Source: Eric Rayner, used with permissionHaving to care for plants is a good way to learn to look after and respect other living things and when we are small it helps develop an appreciation of the magic of nature.
2. Gardening allows us all to be nurturers.
It doesn’t matter if we are seven or seventy, male, female or transgender, gardening underlines that we are all nurturers. Horticulture is a great equalizer: plants don’t give a fig who is tending them and for those with mental health problems to be able to contribute to such a transformative activity can help boost self-esteem.
3. Gardening keeps us connected to other living things.
Gardening can act as a gentle reminder to us that we are not the centre of the universe. Self-absorption can contribute to depression, and focusing on the great outdoors – even in the pared-down form of a patio – can encourage us to be less insular.
As long ago as 2003, research concluded that for those in mental health units and prison, the social nature of group gardening is beneficial because it centers on collective skills and aspirations rather than individual symptoms and deficits. Yet to dig and delve in a walled or fenced garden also helps to keep vulnerable people within boundaries both literally and metaphorically, allowing them to feel safe at the same time as they expand their horizons.
article continues after advertisement4. Gardening helps us relax and let go.
For many the peacefulness associated with gardening comes not from its social aspect however, but the opposite. It enables us to escape from other people. ‘Flowers are restful to look at. They have no emotions or conflict,’ said Freud. Tending to plants allows us to tap into the carefree part of ourselves with no deadlines, mortgage or annoying colleagues to worry about.
Source: Sarah RaynerMoreover, the rhythmic nature of many tasks associated with horticulture – weeding, trimming, sowing, sweeping – allows thoughts to ebb and flow along with our movements. I often take to watering the plants in my patio when trying to untangle the knots in plots or characterization that can arise when writing a novel, and all too often the solution comes to me far more easily there than if I sit staring and despairing at my screen. The competing thoughts inside my head somehow clear and settle, and ideas that are barely formed take shape.
5. Working in nature releases happy hormones.
To say that gardening encourages us to exercise and spend time outdoors might seem a statement of the obvious, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that what’s good for the body is also good for the mind. When I’m deeply immersed in writing it can be all too easy to forget this, but when we exercise levels of serotonin and dopamine (hormones that make us feel good) rise and the level of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress), is lowered. It’s true that a session in the garden can be tiring, but it can also get rid of excess energy so you sleep better and ultimately feel renewed inside.
article continues after advertisementSource: Sarah Rayner6. Being amongst plants and flowers reminds us to live in the present moment.
As I explain in my little book on anxiety, 'when we let go of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future and instead focus on the here and now, anxiety lessens’. So one of the best ways to calm the anxious mind and lift mood is to become more ‘present’. Next time you’re in a garden, pause for a few moments and allow yourself to be aware of your senses.
Listen. Touch. Smell. See.
Just a short time experiencing the fullness of nature like this can be very restorative.
7. Gardening reminds us of the cycle of life, and thus come to terms with that most universal of anxieties: death.
Source: Sarah RaynerRituals can help us work through difficult emotions, including grief, and gardening is a form of ritual involving both the giving of life and acknowledgement of its end; it's symbolic of regeneration. It’s no coincidence we create gardens of remembrance and mark the scattered ashes and graves of our loved ones with roses, shrubs and trees; by doing so we’re acknowledging that from dust we all come and to dust we return.
article continues after advertisement8. Some aspects of gardening allow us to vent anger and aggression...
Clearly then, horticulture is not all sweetness and light: nature has its dark side too. In a similar vein, some of the therapeutic power of gardening is that it allows us to unleash our anger and aggression as well as providing an opportunity to nurture. Why beat pillows with a baseball bat or yell at the cat when you have a hedge to hack? I confess there are times when I enjoy cutting and chopping and yanking and binding as much, if not more, than sowing and feeding and watering, and the great thing about destructiveness in the garden is that it's also connected to renewal and growth – if you don't cut back the plants, your space will be swamped by them.
9. ...whilst others allow us to feel in control.
In a similar vein, anxious people often feel overwhelmed, and gardening can be a good way of gaining a sense of control. Moreover, whereas trying to control other people is invariably a fruitless exercise, you’re more likely to succeed in controlling your beds and borders, which can make gardening a particularly satisfying experience.
10. Last but not least, gardening is easy.
When it comes to growing things, for all its power of healing, the world of plants can feel intimidating to an outsider. If you’re new to gardening you may well be anxious you won’t have ‘green fingers’ and here, as with all new ventures: starting small is key."
Rayner, Sarah. 2015. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/worry-and-panic/201505/petal-power-why-is-gardening-so-good-our-mental-health
Service animals. It's a debate. Some people love the idea, some do not. The truth is they are incredibly popular because their effectiveness in providing comfort and relaxation to whom ever is in their path. They are smart little buggers that get you to release Oxytocin when you see and start to interact with them. Here are some reasons why a service animal might be what the fire service needs:
"Studies have also found that:
They can help you lose weight:
"Numerous studies have linked dog ownership to weight loss:
Lastly look at some of these Fire Departments who have already adopted this practice to help their firefighters:
Credits:Authors: Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. November 2018.
This little guy looks so thankful, he he :)
"Matthew Walker: My name is Matthew Walker, I am a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and I am the author of the book "Why We Sleep." "
"We certainly know that a lack of sleep will actually prevent your brain from being able to initially make new memories, so it's almost as though without sleep the memory inbox of the brain shuts down and you can't commit new experiences to memory. So those new incoming informational emails are just bounced, and you end up feeling as though you're amnesiac. You can't essentially make and create those new memories. "
"We also know that a lack of sleep will lead to an increased development of a toxic protein in the brain that is called beta-amyloid and that is associated with Alzheimer's disease because it is during deep sleep at night when a sewage system within the brain actually kicks in to high gear and it starts to wash away this toxic protein, beta-amyloid. "
"So if you're not getting enough sleep each and every night, more of that Alzheimer's-related protein will build up. The more protein that builds up, the greater your risk of going on to develop dementia in later life."
"What are the effects of sleep deprivation on the body? Well, there are many different effects. Firstly, we know that sleep deprivation affects the reproductive system. We know that men who are sleeping just five to six hours a night have a level of testosterone which is that of someone ten years their senior. So a lack of sleep will age you by almost a decade in terms of that aspect of virility and wellness."
"We also know that a lack of sleep impacts your immune system. So after just one night of four to five hours of sleep, there is a 70% reduction in critical anticancer-fighting immune cells called natural killer cells. And that's the reason that we know that short sleep duration predicts your risk for developing numerous forms of cancer. And that list currently includes cancer of the bowel, cancer of the prostate, as well as cancer of the breast."
"In fact, the link between a lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that recently the World Health Organization decided to classify any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen. So in other words, jobs that may induce cancer because of a disruption of your sleep rate rhythms. "
"We also know that a lack of sleep impacts your cardiovascular system because it is during deep sleep at night that you receive this most wonderful form of effectively blood pressure medication. Your heart rate drops, your blood pressure goes down. "
"If you're not getting sufficient sleep, you're not getting that reboot of the cardiovascular system, so your blood pressure rises. You have, if you're getting six hours of sleep or less, a 200% increased risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke in your lifetime. "
"There is a global experiment that is performed on 1.6 billion people twice a year and it's called daylight savings time. And we know that in the spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, we see a subsequent 24% increase in heart attacks the following day. "
"Another question, perhaps, is what is the recycle rate of a human being? How long can we actually last without sleep before we start to see declines in your brain function or even impairments within your body? And the answer seems to be about 16 hours of wakefulness."
"Once you get past 16 hours of being awake, that's when we start to see mental deterioration and physiological deterioration in the body. We know that after you've been awake for 19 or 20 hours, your mental capacity is so impaired that you would be as deficient as someone who was legally drunk behind the wheel of a car. So if you were to ask me what is the recycle rate of a human being, it does seem to be about 16 hours and we need about eight hours of sleep to repair the damage of wakefulness. Wakefulness essentially is low-level brain damage."(Friedman, N. 2018.What Happens To Your Brain and Body if You Don't Get Enough Sleep. Business Insider.)
We've all been there. Something unexpected happens, we shut down, we get angry, we dwell, we cry, we do irrational things, we drink too much. What if you could slow that response and process. Change your mindset and think more clearly.The ability to bounce back after adversity is found in your mindset. Numerous studies suggest that having a switch from pessimistic attitude to one of opportunity and action can lead to healthier bodies, better psychological effects and improvements in relationships.
Beyond the Gear is a informational place where firefighters and their families can read and take steps at living a healthier life. Healthy body starts with a healthy mind. I hope you enjoy.