One of the best ways to deal with stress and anxiety is to practice mindfulness. While many people conjure up pictures of people sitting on pillows with their legs crossed and their minds adrift, mindfulness doesn’t have to be quite that Zen. The practice is about intentionally staying aware of the current moment, focusing on what is happening inside your own body, and adopting a sense of acceptance. People who practice mindfulness often report feeling calm and clearheaded.
Nursing can be a stressful job, and by having mindful practices in your toolbox, you can help combat the stress and concentrate on taking the next right action. In an article for American Nurse Today, Lois C. Howland and Susan Bauer-Wu offer nurses some tips for adding mindfulness to their day.
- Feeling your breath
Take 10 minutes each day, if possible, to focus on your breathing. Howland and Bauer-Wu suggest paying attention to the sensations as the air travels in and out of your body. Don’t try to change your breath; just notice it. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. This simple practice of breath awareness helps you build the mental focus that you can use throughout the day. It also helps to take mindful breaths before entering a patient’s room. The action activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the “relaxation response,” helping you be more centered and present with the patient.
- Tuning into your body
If your mind becomes agitated with self-criticism, worry, and negative thinking, bring your attention to the physical sensations of your feet as they rest against the floor or other touchpoints of the body where it contacts other surfaces. You can practice this attention to body sensations virtually anywhere to help settle your distracted mind.
- Using movement
Bringing awareness to moving your body mindfully can include gentle stretches in the morning during a break in your day or walking down the hallway to a patient’s room. Notice the physical sensations of your body moving, or the connection of your soles as your feet plant and lift from the floor. Be aware of the intricate interplay of nerves, muscles, tendons, and bones that allow movement to happen. Mindful movement can slow down the busy mind and increase your sense of feeling grounded.
If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, St. Paul’s School of Nursing educators can help. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 822-3018 and speak to one of our career counselors.