The mind is a beautiful, complicated matter. As a society, we don’t invest enough time and energy into our minds, even though it’s what controls most of what we do. Mediation is an exercise for your mind, with only positive benefits to the practice. For nurses, meditation helps reduce stress, anxiety, burnout, and enhances resilience. This article will provide some of the research behind meditation, how it helps nurses, and a few strategies to incorporate it into your daily life.
Nurses Care Beyond the Bedside
Nurses often are caring for everyone. This goes beyond the bedside. They care for their parents, siblings, friends, children, and spouses while often neglecting themselves. The calling of the nurse was never to forget oneself. Incorporating mindful meditation can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout, and offer a sense of well-being and empathy.
Theory of Human Caring
Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring supports healthcare workers to take care of themselves. This theory uses the mind, body, and spirit as part of the interactive healing process for compassionate care and leadership.
What can taking care of your mind do for you? It can make you more confident in your decision making, communication skills, and teamwork approach. We understand that being a nurse at the bedside is stressful. However, giving yourself time to practice meditation isn’t difficult, but it does take some effort.
Action Steps to Begin Mindful Meditation
- Pick a Spot
The first step in learning to meditate is to find a spot that’s quiet. Be sure this area is free of clutter or anything that can cause stress. You can sit outside if you wish, but somewhere that’s not distracting.
- Choose a Time-frame
Choose a time-frame that works best. For nurses, try to do this before your stressful shift, and after work to wind down. You can start with five to ten minutes and work up to an hour. Start by setting a timer or use an app that walks you through a guided meditation exercise.
- Find a Comfortable Position
Next, find a comfortable position. Many of us think of the typical Buddha look when meditating, but I invite you to lay flat, or just sit up with your legs spread out. Do whatever is comfortable for a minute or so that you can just sink into that position. Sit in a relaxed manner, and try not to stiffen your shoulders or upper body. Put your hands down to the side, or on top of your legs. If you put your upper arms down to your sides, allow your hands to land in a comfortable position.
- Just Be Still
Next, just sit. Sit there with our eyes open or closed, and just breathe. Drop your chin and close your eyes if you want them closed, but try not to force any movements. Next, focus on your breathing. Pay attention to your breath going in and out. Focus on the physical parts of taking a breath – in through your nose, out through your mouth.
Your mind may wander. This is okay and even expected. When you feel your mind drifting into thought, just bring yourself back to concentrating on your breath when you can. It will get easier over time to refocus.
- Select a Starting Point and GO!
When you’re ready, set a timer for how long you want to start meditating and go.
Lift your head and close your eyes. Now, listen. Take note of the sounds around you. Think about how your body is feeling and if you need to adjust yourself so that you have no physical pain. Check in with your thoughts and emotions. Think about how you want to start your day. Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. If you didn’t sleep well, ask yourself how you can still go on to have a positive day.
Keep doing this for the next few minutes until your timer goes off.
Consider how you feel after you practice meditation. You may not feel too different, but likely relaxed. Take that and go with it. Every day will get easier. You can learn to meditate anywhere, even if on a quick lunch break. Check in with your mind and body to get the best out of every day.
Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.