Improve Security Guards Coping with Emotions with Yoga
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Officer safety and wellness can improve when agency leaders are willing to support a shift in the culture that is innovative and supports mind-body approaches to health and well-being.” – Jennifer Elliott
It is understood that policing is difficult and stressful. Police are hired, trained, and paid by government entities and as such have reasonable compensations and job security. But, private security service is one of the most rapidly growing occupations worldwide employing a large cadre of people. They are generally hired, trained, and paid by private companies or in some cases are volunteers. In the United States there are over a million security guards employed and providing security services to businesses, schools, medical facilities, private homes, casino surveillance, and involved in investigations. Their compensation tends to be low with a median yearly income of $24,410.
It has been demonstrated that officers and civilian staff in law enforcement agencies face enormous stress that can have a negative impact on physical, psychological, and emotional health. But, with security guards, there is very little known about the stresses involved in these positions and their impact on the health and well-being of the guards. In one study, people in different occupations rated their satisfaction and happiness with their jobs. Security guard was rated as the unhappiest career. This was primarily due to a perceived lack of rewards and growth opportunities. Another study found that security guard was rated as a stressful occupation, to some extent due to often working late hours alone. Stress is known to have negative effects on physical and mental health. It is likely that security guards are not immune.
It has been shown that mindfulness practices in general can reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and improve emotion regulation. Yoga practice in particular has been shown to reduce stress and improve emotions. So, it would make sense to investigate whether yoga practice could be used to improve the emotional states of guards.
In India, the Home Guards are a volunteer group that provides security for public events such as festivals, elections, sporting events, traffic control, etc. In today’s Research News article “Effect of integrated Yoga module on positive and negative emotions in Home Guards in Bengaluru: A wait list randomized control trial”
or see below, or for full text see
Amaranath and colleagues studied the emotional health of these Home Guards and investigated the impact of integrated yoga practice. Home Guards were randomly assigned to either a yoga group or no treatment. The yoga group practiced yoga for 2 months for 1 hour per day for 6 days per week. Positive and negative emotions were measured. Positive emotions included attentive, interested, excited, strong, enthusiastic, determined, proud, inspired, active, alert, happy, pleased, content, and glad. Negative emotions included afraid, distressed, upset, jittery, guilty, nervous, scared, hostile, ashamed, irritable, disappointed, sad, unhappy, troubled, and miserable. These positive and negative emotions were measured before and after the 2-months of yoga practice.
They found that yoga practice produced and increase in positive emotions and a decrease in negative emotions in the Home Guards. On the other hand, the control group had the opposite effect with a decrease in positive emotions and an increase in negative emotions. The yoga group showed the greatest changes in the positive emotions of content, glad, pleased, and excited and the greatest reductions in the negative emotions of disappointed, distressed, upset, sad, and unhappy. Hence yoga practice had a large beneficial effect on the emotional states of the Home Guards .
These results are interesting but it should be noted that the study lacked an active control. So, it is impossible to determine if the effects were due to yoga practice specifically, or possibly simply to exercise or subject expectancy effects, demand characteristic, etc. It remains for more tightly controlled studies to determine the exact cause of the emotional improvements in the Home Guards.
Nevertheless, it is clear that yoga practice can improve security guards coping with emotions.
“the scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent. The evidence is growing that yoga practice is a relatively low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health.” – Harvard Medical Health Letter
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
Amaranath, B., Nagendra, H. R., & Deshpande, S. (2016). Effect of integrated Yoga module on positive and negative emotions in Home Guards in Bengaluru: A wait list randomized control trial. International Journal of Yoga, 9(1), 35–43. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-6131.171719
Background: The beneficial aspect of positive emotions on the process of learning and the harmful effect of negative emotions on coping with stress and health are well-documented through studies. The Home Guards (HGs) are working in a very stressful situation during election, managing traffic and other crowded places. It is quite essential in present day circumstances that they have to manage their emotions and cope up with different stressful situations.
Objective: To study the efficacy of integrated Yoga module (IYM) on emotions (positive and negative affect [PA and NA]) of HGs.
Methods: A total of 148 HGs both males and females who qualified the inclusion and exclusion criteria were randomly divided into Yoga group (YG) and control groups (CG). The YG had supervised practice sessions (by trained experts) for 1 h daily, 6 days a week for 8 weeks along with their regular routine work whereas CG performing their routine work. Positive affect negative affect scale (PANAS) was assessed before and after 8 weeks using a modified version of PANAS.
Results: PA in YG had significantly increased (P < 0.05) whereas it had decreased significantly (P < 0.05) in CG. Other positive effect in YG had significantly increased (P < 0.001), whereas it had decreased significantly (P< 0.001) in CG. NA in YG had significantly decreased (P < 0.001), whereas it had significantly increased (P< 0.001) in CG. Other NA in YG had significantly decreased (P < 0.001), whereas it had significantly increased (P < 0.01) in CG.
Conclusions: The results suggested that IYM can be useful for HGs to improve the PA and to decrease NA score. Moreover, IYM is cost-effective and helps HGs for coping up with emotions in stressful situations.