Mindfulness and Nursing
Published: 06 May 2019
Published: 06 May 2019
Nursing is a job that requires you to stay particularly focussed for certain tasks.
When your attention starts to fracture, you are more likely to make an error. As well as this, burnout, compassion fatigue and depression are high in the profession. Nurses can care so much for others that they forget to care for themselves.
One way to overcome this common pitfall is through the use of mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness doesn’t need to take long; in fact, it can be performed in less than ten seconds, if you know the techniques.
Meditation can be a practice for when your mind or the situation you find yourself in is out of control.
Sit and focus on your breathing. Focus on the in and the out. Your mind will jump from one distracting thought to another at first, and this is normal. Always gently bring your thoughts back to the breath, using it as an anchor.
You don’t need anything special to meditate. Sit somewhere quiet. Set your phone to alert you in five or ten minutes, and allow yourself the serenity of following your breath and nothing else.
Yoga is meditation in motion. For those who are unable to sit still, it may be a better choice than meditation. The purpose of yoga is not necessarily to get in shape (though it can help with that). It helps calm your mind by focusing on the minutiae of your body instead of worrying about the external.
In addition to meditation or yoga, self-care is a primary part of your mental wellbeing.
Self-care means seeing to your own needs. Take care of your medical problems you may have been putting off. Ensure that you are eating properly and exercising. You should even go so far as to remove yourself from toxic relationships.
It isn’t a good idea to make major life decisions while you are in crisis mode. Self-care means that you take the time to get healthy, so you can deal with anything that is holding you back.
Many nurses skip this step, and the standard excuse is that they don’t have time. This is why it is important to set boundaries, both personally and professionally.
Grounding is a practice that you can take to the workplace floor and use at any time.
There are three types of grounding: physical, mental and soothing. An example of mental grounding would be to look around your environment and describe to yourself everything you see in minute detail. For instance, the painting on the wall is a watercolour of blue tones, the walls behind them are painted beige, the computer screen is white with red highlights, the mouse in my hand feels like a smooth lump, and so on.
Physical grounding takes the practice a step further. One way to physically ground yourself is to notice where your body is in space. Feel where your feet touch the floor. Examine how your arms are posed. Scan your body for any tension and release it.
By contrast, soothing grounding is a little more subtle. A soothing practice could entail thinking of your favourite things, seeing them clearly in your mind, and remembering why they mean so much to you.
Of course, many grounding exercises are available in each category, so experiment with them until you find one that works for you when the stress gets too high.
Lynda is a registered nurse with three years experience on a busy surgical floor in a city hospital. She graduated with an Associates degree in Nursing from Mercyhurst College Northeast in 2007 and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania in the United States. In her work, she took care of patients post operatively from open heart surgery, immediately post-operatively from gastric bypass, gastric banding surgery and post abdominal surgery. She also dealt with patient populations that experienced active chest pain, congestive heart failure, end stage renal disease, uncontrolled diabetes and a variety of other chronic, mental and surgical conditions. See Educator Profile