Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - The Beginner’s Guide To Meditation
Sixty-three percent (63%) of nurses consider workplace stress to be the biggest workplace hazard according to our 2021 HealthyNurse Survey. Pick up some tips from this blog to learn how to start using meditation as a way to combat stress.
According to the American Nurses Association’s Health Risk Appraisal, an overwhelming majority of nurses, 82 percent, consider workplace stress to be the biggest workplace hazard. There are many ways to combat stress, including meditation. The National Institutes of Health reports that studies suggest a meditation practice may reduce stress, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, while increasing feelings of happiness and well-being.
What is Meditation?
According to Psychology Today, meditation is the act of turning your mind away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. The practice can involve turning your attention to a single point of reference, focusing on the breath, bodily sensations, or a mantra.
How to Start Meditating
One of the biggest barriers to meditation is that people don’t know where to begin. We break it down with these tips below. Take a look and then try this 2 minute meditation.
- Don’t worry about the rules. There are many different types of meditation and although they may have rules or guidelines, the way you decide to practice is up to you. Take what works for you and leave the rest.
- Start small. You may have visions of yourself sitting on a pillow chanting “om” for 30 minutes but that’s not realistic at first. Set a modest goal, such as meditating for one minute every day for a week. Aim for two minutes the next week and continue to build upon your progress.
- Set a timer. The point of meditation is to either focus on a particular thought or mantra or focus on nothing at all and just “be.” That’s tough to do when you’re looking at the clock to see how long you’ve been meditating. Use the timer function on your smartphone so you can focus and keep your eyes closed. Be sure to set the alarm to a low sound that is not too jarring, like a soft gong or chime.
- Go someplace quiet. It’s easier to feel calm and relaxed without the TV blaring in the background or overhearing coworkers’ conversations.
- Get comfortable. You don’t have to buy a special meditation pillow or yoga mat to begin meditating. You can sit, lie down, or even stand. In fact, some types of meditation involve movement, like walking. Do whatever feels best for you and feel free to experiment.
- Find your focus. You can choose to focus on anything, but common focal points are breath, mantras, or the body.
- Breath: RN and board-certified integrative nurse coach Nicole Vienneau suggests the 4:7:8 technique for beginners. Slowly inhale for four counts, hold the breath for a count of seven, then exhale for a count of eight. Repeat the process a minimum of four times and then repeat it as many times as you’d like.
- Mantras: Pick a word or phrase and repeat it in your mind continuously. Try these mantra ideas to get started.
- Body: Center your attention on a particular area of your body, such as the belly, neck, or feet.
- Notice your thoughts. A popular misconception about meditation is that the goal is to have a blank mind. This is unrealistic. Thoughts will be popping into your head constantly. Acknowledge them and let them go. The goal of meditation is to keep your focus on one thing only. So, when other thoughts creep in, just keep bringing your awareness back to your focal point.
- Go high tech. Meditation is an ancient practice, but it’s never been easier or more accessible thanks to technology. If you are constantly getting distracted, consider using an app like Headspace, which will lead you through a guided meditation.
- Falling asleep is OK. If you get so comfortable and relaxed that you fall asleep, accept it. In fact, some types of meditation specifically help people fall asleep, like one of these free guided meditations from UCLA. Fighting the urge to doze off while meditating just creates more stress. If you notice that you consistently fall asleep every time you attempt to meditate, it may mean you need more shut-eye in general. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, read our tips on how to fall asleep faster.
- Take a moment. After the chime or gong sounds on your phone, take a second to gather your thoughts and regroup before you power forward with the rest of your day. Over time, you’ll begin to notice that the effects of daily meditation will help you bring more mindfulness to all aspects of your life.
Ready for more?
Talk to your supervisor about hosting a guided meditation training or workshop at your workplace. Check out Connectors of HNHN, Transcendental Meditation (TM) for nurses and Wellness at Your Fingertips for more on guided meditation and EFT techniques.
Make a commitment to try meditation this week. Worried about any barriers preventing you from making it happen? Have any other tips on how to get started? Tell us about them in our ways to deal with stress discussion or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Find this helpful? Click on the social media links on the left side of this page to share it with your networks. Tag us with #HealthyNurse.
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