Channeling Mindfulness In Nursing
As nurses, many of us feel that, of course, we are mindful, but are we really? And just what is mindfulness? Check out this blog to learn more about how to stay mindful and how doing so can enhance your nursing practice.
An article by NIH describes mindfulness as being totally in the moment, focusing on what is going on inside and immediately outside of your own body. A sense of non-judgement and acceptance during this focused moment is also important.
Mindful practices include:
- Stopping for a moment, if possible
- Taking deep breaths
- Concentrating on the present
- Focus on how your body is feeling
- Really notice your surroundings and what is going on
Lois C. Howland and Susan Bauer-Wu offer additional mindfulness practices for nurses in this article from American Nurse Today, including setting aside ten minutes daily to fully observe your breathing as well as performing gentle stretching and other movement.
According to current research, mindfulness can assist in pain management, stress relief, chronic disease symptom management, and an increased overall enjoyment of life.
Learning mindfulness for yourself as a nurse can be useful in not only managing pain and stress, but also to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue. Furthermore, mindfulness practices can benefit your family, friends, co-workers, and patients.
In the past few years, a cohort of nurses sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson, delved into mindfulness, through research, publications, and video productions of nurses using mindfulness in their daily practice. The following descriptions are all part of “In the Moment, Stories of Mindfulness in Nursing” series, which received support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Johnson & Johnson. Please click on each nurse’s name to view her video vignette.
Allie describes “being real with them and just being there” for a 23 year-old patient, who was scarred by drug use. The patient discusses how drugs helped her cope with life’s difficulties. Allie listens closely to what the patient is saying and feeling, and reflects on what she, herself, does to be less stressed. Allie has a meaningful moment with her patient talking about how music and sleep help decrease her stress levels. Allie also reveals that when she is overwhelmed, she refocuses on what truly matters and takes a deep breath. She offers the advice of keeping the mind still and forming your own opinions.
Sandra explains that being present in the moment with patients at certain moments is such a privilege and should be treated as such. She describes a poignant moment she encountered in the labor and delivery department. Although it had a tragic outcome, Sandra was glad she had studied mindfulness and in doing so has felt greater compassion and love in her own life and is now more present in the moments when it is needed most.
Megan exhorts nurses to be present with the patient and their family. She had a beautiful, but heart-wrenching experience with a tiny infant and its mother. When the baby passed away, the nurses in the unit skyped into the funeral per the parents request and for the nurses’ own senses of closure. Megan states, “the family entrusts me” with their child, and she feels it is her duty to talk to the family and form a genuine relationship with them.
Kelly tells us that, “…mindfulness can be learned and coached” but also gleaned from experience. Furthermore, it is valuable to center yourself even, and maybe especially, when you’re not at work. She practices it when exercising and being outside. Kelly feels we gain from all of life’s experiences. During difficult situations, she likes to take a brief look outdoors, take a deep breath, and then come back to the situation a little more refreshed. She describes a mindful moment during a patient’s final hours, sitting with the patient’s daughter and being fully present. She says it is “truly an honor” to know what others need from you at that time.
Jamie reminds us that everyone makes a difference. When patients are mindful and offer thanks, Jaime receives an “inner happiness” and a further reminder to be mindful herself. She says to offer patients that extra moment of time, even when you don’t think you have it. Rely on your instincts. You’ll never regret it.
Want to know more about mindfulness and this initiative? Read The Mindful Nurse, Executive Extra from Nursing Management: September, 2016; October, 2016; and November, 2016.
Have any tips on how to stay mindful or stories about how practicing mindfulness has helped your nursing practice? Share them with us in our mindfulness discussion.
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