Many healthcare practitioners are experiencing an increase in stress since the pandemic. There are plenty of resources out there to help us recover from burnout, however, it is also important to catch stress before it gets to that stage. In this article, we will be exploring mindfulness meditations, their impact on our mental wellbeing and how we can practice mindfulness in our work.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means paying attention to any thoughts and sensations you experience and acknowledging them without judgement, bringing you out of your mind and into the moment. This intervention can improve our well-being and even make us more effective in our role by reducing our depression and anxiety and increasing our empathy and focus.
In essence, mindfulness is the practice of being present and it sure does take a lot of practice. However doing a little, often, can create a dramatic improvement to how we think in as little as 8 weeks.
While it’s not a replacement for better hours and improved working conditions – Mindfulness training for nurses, in particular, is a growing area of research due to its ability to support us in focusing on the ‘right now’, whilst still promoting compassion and self-care.
How can healthcare practitioners use mindfulness?
Many mindfulness meditations require dedicated time set aside for training, which may feel unattainable to those of us working in a hospital environment. However, there are ways we can incorporate this practice into our current schedules.
Physician and mindfulness advocate Ronald Epstein M.D. suggests implementing the ‘door handle technique’. When reaching for the door handle to your next patient, take a few seconds to pause and take a deep breath in. This can be a simple yet powerful way to incorporate mindfulness into your busy day.
3 more ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities:
The next time you feel that rumbling in your stomach, before rushing to that cereal bar, take a moment. Acknowledge that your body is telling you what it needs.
With the cereal bar as an example, notice how the colors and crinkles of the wrapper, how it feels on your fingertips and the sound it makes as you run your fingers over the edges. As you open it, notice any smells or sensations you experience, as you put it into your mouth, feel how the texture of the bar feels against your tongue.
In just a few moments, you have taken time to fuel your body and have a moment for yourself, before getting back into your busy schedule.
Brushing your teeth
Brushing teeth is often something that we do on autopilot – half-awake and in a rush.
When brushing your teeth, take those 2 minutes to pay attention to the sensation. The smell and taste of spearmint, the sound of water from the faucet, the way the bristles of the brush travel across each tooth. Center yourself by planting both feet on the ground, and notice how your body balances itself. Finally, breathe deeply and pay attention to any lingering scents of mint. When you are ready, continue with your routine.
Making a coffee
Coffee is synonymous with rushing – a quick boost needed to carry on with the day. But that doesn’t mean the process has to be rushed too.
You can mindfully make coffee from the moment you select your cup. Notice any cracks or textures on the mug, how it gets warmer against your hands as the hot water pours in. Pay attention to the sounds that are made from the clinking of the spoon against the ceramic, the way the steam floats away in unique formations.
When it begins to cool, sip, don’t gulp. Hold the liquid in your mouth for a moment, and pay attention to the feeling and taste.
These methods can be replicated in any of those routines where you have a moment to yourself. From washing your hands to getting changed. The key is to pay attention to the sensations around you and fully engage with what you are experiencing.
You may get random thoughts that pop into your mind, perhaps remembering something from yesterday, or thinking about what you need to do next, and that’s okay. Notice that you have had this thought and let it drift away.
This is just a taste of things you can do to begin introducing mindfulness into your life. There are a lot of resources out there for further suggestions and more intensive meditation sessions. For more insight into mindfulness and healthcare communities like The Mindful Healthcare Collective are a good place to start.
Interested in how our recruitment team can help you decrease your stress levels? Contact us.