Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Pamela Mulligan BSN, RN, NBC-HWC
Nurse integrates mindfulness and self-compassion techniques. Pamela Mulligan BSN, RN, NBC-HWC, is an integrative health coach, Founder of Replenish Mind Body Spirit, LLC., and Co-Founder of Replenish at Work. Replenishmbs.com
Nurses are nurturers. Every day, they are tasked with caring for the well-being of others. Nurse and integrative health coach, Pam Mulligan recognizes the value of integrating caring-healing practices to sustain a compassionate presence and engagement in her work.
Since the start of the pandemic, she has made a deeper commitment to prioritizing time for self-reflection, rest, and restorative practices. She teaches this to other nurses and makes it part of her routine to regain a sense of clarity, connection and compassion in her day.
While navigating treatment for breast cancer, she learned to access moments of ease with Dr. Kristin Neff’s self-compassion practices. These practices taught her to:
- Offer herself kindness when experiencing difficult moments
- Recognize that feeling vulnerable and nervous are normal
- Use mindfulness techniques to be with the things she couldn’t change
“Our current climate has reminded me of the power of mindfulness practices, especially the ones that focus on self-compassion,” said Pam. “I’m finding a need again to make peace with vulnerability and surrender to the things I can’t control.”
You may be wondering: How does any nurse find time to practice mindfulness or rest right now? Pam suggests scheduling short 10-minute breaks. She believes when minds and hearts find moments of clarity, we make decisions that are not only beneficial to ourselves, but for all beings. Micro-restorative practices add up.
“It’s intentional time to slow down, take note of my energy, listen, and feel what’s going on with myself and my heart,” said Pam.
A Deep Focus on Self-Kindness
While Pam hasn’t always practiced self-compassion, she’s always been a sensitive person who feels things deeply. This characteristic is a gift, but also a challenge. She is thankful for the evidence-based tools and research in this field to help her mitigate symptoms of compassion fatigue.
“Nurses have a natural impulse to give care and offer compassion in the face of suffering,” said Pam. “We are experts at comforting others, but many of us are uncomfortable directing compassion and care toward ourselves.”
And while Pam admits it’s not easy to sit with uncomfortable emotions, allowing them space to be recognized is healing. When she realizes her urge to turn away from discomfort, she tries to remember (with patience), the benefits of mindful awareness. This brings her a greater awareness of the gratitude and meaning that’s often right there, hidden within the suffering.
“It’s normal to be in a state of fight-or-flight in healthcare right now, and it takes effort to slow down,” said Pam. “I admit to days where I have to take my practice on the move.”
In times of stress, Pam turns to activities such as:
- Practicing yoga
There is so much wellness advice out there. It’s important to check in with yourself for what you need most to restore. Pam encourages all nurses to:
- Go easy on yourself: Forgive yourself often and quiet your self-critic. Vulnerability and fear are part of being human. Offer yourself kindness and appreciation for your efforts in the same way you would provide comfort to a good friend.
- Learn how to rest: Adequate sleep and rest is essential for your body and brain to heal and repair. There are many physical and emotional benefits to good quality rest.
- Remember your why: Live closest to your deepest values. Be tenacious with your commitment to care for yourself as part of how you care for others.
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