November 06, 2019

Mindfulness can bolster standard situational awareness procedures by promoting mental health and empowering emotional decision-making. Practicing mindfulness does not make one immune to exposure to stressors or feeling stress; however, it equips the participant with the ability to identify when one is experiencing negative emotions and being able to correlate it to a stressor and then manage it accordingly.

Practicing situational awareness can help someone identify, reflect, and forecast upon the environment around them and empower them to anticipate threats. Mindfulness takes these same skills and improves one’s cognitive capability to deal with a high-stress situation. In essence, if a person knows how they respond to daily stress and can mitigate anxiety, it better positions them to deal with higher-than-normal stress, which is common, especially during travel.



 Exercise 1

Take a few moments out of the day if you realize you are beginning to feel stressed (increased heart rate, rapid breathing, headaches, muscle tension), and become aware of how your environment or situation is contributing to those feelings. Take a few deep breaths to try minimizing the feeling of stress.


 Exercise 2

While moving through your everyday life, take mental notes to check in with oneself. Ask yourself, “Am I experiencing stress due to the situation around me, or am I creating my stress?” Are my thoughts present in the moment, or am I thinking of the next task I need to do?” 


Though situational awareness does have cognitive implications – especially in the reflection step where someone has to objectively assess their cognitive capabilities or limitations – mindfulness strengthens the mind-body relationship, which is particularly useful when dealing with stress. Much like how training in self-defense would empower a person to physically defend himself or herself, mindfulness helps manage a person’s defense against negative effects of the chronic and acute stress of both hypervigilance and from hazardous situations. In the process of someone constantly surveying her environment and herself, coupled with the simultaneous practice of mindfulness, she would be able to anticipate not only possible threats to her, but proactively anticipate and assess her body’s stress response to increase decision-making and promote resiliency amid a stressful situation.


 Exercise 3

The next time a stressful event happens, either acute or chronic, take a moment to assess what led up to that event. “Was it preventable?” “Could I have anticipated it?” Take a second to assess your physical and psychological response. “Could I have mitigated the threat?” “Did my stress impede my ability to respond appropriately?” “Do I have a sense of control over my stress right now?”  These are all questions that can point to one’s need to begin practicing situational awareness and mindfulness. 


Utilizing situational awareness and mindfulness to aid in decision-making and mitigate threats in critical situations are necessary skills for personnel in any organization. Learn more about situational awareness as a practice


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