Inoculation has been a readily identifiable term for when a pathogen or an antigen is introduced into your body to stimulate the production of antibodies. Some inoculations will prevent you from developing the illness if exposed to an infected person or at the very least reduce the extent of the illness to mild or reduced symptoms.
Stress inoculation teaches coping skills to manage stress and anxiety. This can include training in deep muscle relaxation, cognitive restructuring, breathing exercises, assertiveness skills, thought stopping, role playing, and guided self-dialogue. This type of training is used to assist people with handling anxiety, PTSD and to survive a fight for your life through reducing the effects of the stress response that you have so you can fight through to victory.
Research has found that the stress you experience in your training practicing potential scenarios does have beneficial effects for warriors and first responders in actual events. And that means it can have the same benefits to you.
Research has found that the stress you experience in your training, practicing potential scenarios does have beneficial effects for warriors and first responders in actual events. And that means it can have the same benefits for you.
Remember, we don’t want our heart rate to exceed the optimal performance heart rate of 145 BPM (condition red) and definitely not exceed 175 BPM which is condition black and can lead to hypervigilance where you freeze up. I describe condition black as crying, curling up in a fetal position, peeing your pants, not doing anything, and giving up.
There are four types of stress that you may experience through your life.
- Time stress.
- You worry about the number of things that you have to do, and you fear that you’ll fail to achieve something important.
- Anticipatory stress.
- Anticipatory stress describes stress that you experience concerning the future.
- Situational stress.
- Situational stress is a short-term form of stress that occurs in certain temporary situations.
- Encounter stress.
- Encounter stress revolves around your interaction with people. You experience encounter stress when you worry about interacting with a certain person or group of people – you may not like them, or you might think that they’re unpredictable.
The stress we are interested in fall largely into encounter stress with some situational stress incidents you may be thrust into.
You have been threatened or attacked by a person during an encounter, that you were not looking for. So, like an inoculation for the flu which reduces the severity of your symptoms if you get the illness; stress inoculation will help you cope with the symptoms of your stress response and reduce the physiological and psychological response of your body; so that you can fight through the attack. You will still have a stress response, but hopefully, you’re training and preparing before undergoing the incident which can reduce the extent of your stress response; so that you can function effectively.
How can we inoculate ourselves through training and preparation? I will focus on seven tasks you can do to prepare yourself.
- Tactical Breathing is taking slow deep breaths that expand the stomach and to control of how many breaths in the cycle.
- Mental rehearsal / Imagery involves imagined, mental practice of performing a task as opposed to actual practice. Mental rehearsal of performances is an excellent way to support skill development.
- Scenario-based training is a powerful method that uses immersive simulations like VR environments, eLearning games, mini quiz scenarios, role-play training, and the like to help apply knowledge and skills in real-life.
- Video review is watching the videos of defensive incidents to supplement the scenario-based training.
- Regular dry-fire and live-fire with your pistols is a perishable skill and both can help you maintain a level of competency.
- Physical conditioning because in a stress response, your body will be placed under demands that require your systems can function. You do not have to be a world class athlete, but you should be implementing some sort of exercise, e.g., anaerobic, aerobic and movement in your lifestyle.
- Education helps you to set boundaries on what you will do if a particular line is crossed. Learning never stops, and you should be committed to always learning.
These topics will be examined in detail in other writings. This list is not comprehensive. Nor is their order I have listed them relative to their importance. You may find other areas that you need to work on as a person who has taken responsibility to protect your family and yourself.
Awareness is good, but without skills and ability tied to that awareness, all you have is anxiety”– Tony Blauer