Today, we’re looking at mindfulness for busy nurses!
Now, let’s cover this one piece of important information. Mindfulness might make you think of a group of zen buddhist monks meditating in large groups as they allow their minds to wander until they reach some higher realm of consciousness. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of enhancing one’s awareness and attention towards the present moment (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Kabat-Zinn, 2003). Mindfulness just means to pay attention “on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4). It’s about saying “ok I’m feeling rushed right now. I’m going to stop for moment and take a breath and focus on the task. What am I doing?”
Mindfulness is an everyday practice, that can change your relationship and your perceptions of the world around you. There’s quite a lot of scientific evidence to show the benefits of everyday mindfulness on our overall health.
How does this apply to nurses specifically?
Nurses are in the middle of huge social changes. Their attention spans (not to mention the ability to communicate) might be challenged. So, if you are a nurse manager or hospital executive who wants to start introducing mindfulness to your unit, here are some ideas you can try.
Keep A Jigsaw Puzzle Around The Unit
You probably have one or two of these laying around the unit anyway. If not, they’re easy to pickup at a thrift store for a good price. Just be sure to get something that isn’t too challenging, because the idea is to shift your focus for only a few minutes at a time, and practice personal awareness rather than frustration. It can be an easy way to include your staff with simple activities while engaging with one another in peaceful ways. Again, stick to an easy puzzle.
Practice Muscle Relaxation
This one is an easy fix and doesn’t take more than a few seconds. If you want a more elaborate relaxation journey, you can listen to my guided audio clips here to help you and your fellow nurses take a step back from the busy hustle and bustle of managing complex patient care. I also have a great gratitude meditation with 528Hz. The guided meditation is only about 10 minutes long, but the relaxing music goes for an hour extra.
However, all you really need is a quiet space and your own human self. Of course, it can help to have a dedicated room near the unit to just shrug your shoulders up and down a few times, then release while letting-out a long, relaxing breath. You can also stand tall and raise your arms above your head and shake-off the excess energy through your fingers.
3 Deep Breathes
Perhaps the moment calls for something a little more calming and simple. Just find a quiet place when you’re on the unit to practice deep breathing. Count each breath in for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds as well. This will engage your stomach muscles as your inflate the balloon upon inhale, and deflate as you exhale. Try to keep yourself “in the now.” You can even do this with your patients each shift, and start teaching them how to practice deep breathing properly. We often use shallow breathing and forget to engage those deep abdominal/thoracic muscles.
When you pay close attention to what and how you’re eating, it can really help to slow your life down regardless of how busy your day can be. Eating with mindfulness involves really tasting your food and knowing why you’re eating something. Pay attention to the groceries you buy, the ingredients in your food, along with their quality. When busy nurses can take a pause to explore the feelings inside the body, when eating, you can engage all your senses and connect with yourself. Mindful eating is also a great idea to gain more awareness of when you’re triggered to eat. Why did you grab that apple or granola bar? We all need a system and anytime you include food as a part of your mindfulness system, your weight management system will feel more attainable. See my podcast on 6 Easy Steps To Mindful Eating here. Also see blog on Baking & Cooking As Mindfulness Activities.
The Mindfulness Challenge
As you can see, there are many ways that busy nurses can practice mindfulness – on your own or together, in the workplace. Mindfulness doesn’t require extra time, it’s just how you use your time. Sitting down for a few moments to put a piece of the puzzle together, and taking a few deep breathes with your client before you take-off for your morning rest break can bring peace and focus to your day. This is also great brain training too!
Sometimes we just feel stuck and fall back a few steps to catch our breath. We revert to what we know and need some time to adapt. When this happens, it can be outright impossible to move forward with your goals and dreams. So why not take a pause, and re-ignite your passion for life through mindfulness?
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