chaplaincy, crisis management, Leadership, mental health care, mental-health, mindfulness, navy seals, pastoral care, self-care, spiritual care, visualization
I find much to learn about crisis management from the military. The constant need to be vigilant and alert has created a philosophy of training to help foster the ability to make sharp and clear decisions while under pressure. Here is set of tactics from a former Navy Seal, 4 Navy SEAL Tactics to Think Clearly in a Crisis.
1. Box breathing
Controlled breathing calms your mind and reduces stress.
On our call, Divine gave me a short class on what he calls box breathing. It’s simply taking a slow, deep breath–holding it for four or five seconds–and exhaling slowly through the nose for a count of four or five. Divine starts each day with 20 minutes of breathing, but he suggested that five repetitions is a good start. Done daily, box breathing lowers stress hormones, sharpens your focus, and deepens your ability to concentrate on your tasks.
The first idea is to remember to pause and breathe. This is something that seems hard to accomplish in crisis but we know there are always moments to breathe, so pay attention to them.
The fear wolf has a counterpart–the courage wolf. Which one you feed will grow bigger and stronger.
The SEALs call positive thinking “attention control.” In other words, where you focus your attention is crucial to the success of a mission. A Navy SEAL can’t allow his mind to go negative in battle. “If you say to yourself, ‘Holy cow, that enemy looks stronger than me,’ then you’re toast,” says Divine.
Negative thoughts “degrade your performance,” because they weaken the mind and, eventually, weaken the body, according to Divine. We’re bombarded by negative news during the coronavirus pandemic. Every day seems to bring more bad news of unemployment and company failures. Guarding your mind and staying positive is crucial for making smart decisions.
How we focus our thoughts can effect how we react. Goal two is to train oneself to think positive and not allow the negative to take root in our minds.
We’re all familiar with great athletes who visualize a successful outcome. Divine says visualization is a secret mental weapon for the Navy SEALs, too. “The only place where you’ll get perfect practice is in your mind,” Divine told me. “Studies show that if you just practice–in your mind’s eye–perfect form and a perfect outcome, you are training your neurobiology to actually perform better … I’ve had profound outcomes with visualization.” Visualization exerts a strong gravitational pull. Picturing a bright post-Covid future in your mind’s eye will turn it into a destiny instead of a wish.
I would take this a step further and suggest that we visualize how we would handle the day by day. For me, this piece is a crucial component of being able to care for people with heart and with empathy, We need to picture how it would look and how it would be appreciated.
4. Front-sight focus
Front-sight focus is a fundamental shooting tactic perfected in SEAL training. If a marksman focuses on the target, the front sight of the weapon will be out of focus. If you focus on the front sight, the target will still be visible in the distance. Divine says front-sight focus is a metaphor for focusing on your most crucial goals that are aligned to the target–your vision and mission.
Focus, Focus, Focus. Part of being mindful is narrowing one’s thinking. If we allow too much to invade our mind, we lose focus and get overwhelmed.