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DiversityNursing Blog

The Profound Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness in Nursing

Posted by Alana Bergin

Mon, Sep 25, 2023 @ 01:29 PM

A Nurse’s life requires a level of selflessness and compassion that is incomparable to most, if not all, other careers. In this demanding and fast-paced world, where caregivers are faced with numerous challenges and responsibilities, the practice of mindfulness has emerged as a valuable tool for maintaining physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Mindfulness, rooted in ancient meditation practices, involves cultivating present-moment awareness and non-judgmental acceptance. Millions of employees in all career categories and positions are currently practicing mindfulness. In recent years, its incorporation into Nursing practice has demonstrated remarkable benefits, enhancing patient care, reducing burnout, and fostering a more compassionate and effective healthcare environment.

Enhanced Patient Care

Mindfulness in Nursing has a direct positive impact on patient care. When Nurses practice mindfulness, they become attuned to the present moment, allowing them to be fully present with their patients. By actively listening, observing, and engaging without judgment, Nurses can create a deeper connection with patients. This connection fosters a sense of trust and empathy, which are crucial elements in effective patient care.

Mindfulness also contributes to clinical decision-making. When Nurses are fully present, they can better assess patients' needs and conditions, leading to more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. Furthermore, mindful Nurses tend to notice subtle changes in patients' conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed, potentially preventing complications or deterioration.

Reduced Burnout and Stress

Nursing is undoubtedly a high-stress profession, accompanied by long shifts, critical decisions, and emotionally charged situations. Mindfulness practices offer Nurses valuable tools to manage and reduce these stressors. Regular mindfulness practice has been shown to lower cortisol levels, the body's stress hormone, leading to decreased anxiety and burnout.

Through mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, practicing muscle relaxation, and meditation, Nurses can activate the body's relaxation response, promoting a sense of calm even in the midst of chaotic situations. This not only benefits Nurses' mental and emotional well-being but also helps them maintain their focus, clarity, and resilience, which are essential for providing quality patient care.

Cultivation of Compassion and Empathy

Mindfulness fosters compassion and empathy – qualities that are fundamental to Nursing practice. By practicing self-compassion, Nurses learn to be kind and understanding toward themselves, even when facing challenges or mistakes. This self-compassion extends naturally to patients, as Nurses become more attuned to their emotions and needs. This heightened empathy can significantly improve the patient experience, making them feel understood, cared for, and respected.

Incorporating mindfulness into their routines also enables Nurses to better navigate emotionally charged situations. They can respond to patients' and families' emotions with patience and understanding, rather than reacting impulsively. This emotional regulation creates a more supportive environment for everyone involved.

In the ever-evolving landscape of Nursing, the integration of mindfulness practices holds immense promise. From enhancing patient care to reducing burnout and stress, cultivating compassion and empathy, and improving communication, the benefits of mindfulness in Nursing are undeniable. By adopting mindfulness techniques, Nurses can create a more holistic, patient-centered, and empathetic healthcare environment. With hundreds of mobile apps and programs, practicing mindfulness has now become easier than ever.  As mindfulness continues to gain recognition, its incorporation into Nursing education and practice stands to elevate the quality of care and the well-being of both Nurses and their patients.

Topics: mental health, mindfulness, mindful

Support Programs To Help Nurses Deal With Stress

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Jan 30, 2020 @ 02:46 PM

supportIn order for a healthcare system to be successful in having high engagement, job satisfaction and retention, the Nursing workforce should be able to combat the stressors of the job and burnout.

Nurses can better accomplish this by having help from peer support groups and mindfulness programs.

According to a report from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), between 35% and 54% of Nurses and Doctors experience burnout. Among medical students and residents, it is as high as 60%.

Symptoms, the NAM report said, include emotional exhaustion, cynicism, loss of enthusiasm and joy in their work and increasing detachment from their patients and the patients’ ailments. The problem has been linked to higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide.

Many institutions are implementing stress management and self-care programs to provide caregivers with easy-to-use tools and resources to build their resilience and help them cope.

The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi implemented a new mindfulness program known as the ‘Compassionate Intension Program.’ The sessions introduce caregivers to mindfulness as a wellness tool they can utilize in both their workplace and personal lives. Currently, there are three sessions in place:

  • In Tune Tuesdays: Held biweekly, ‘In Tune Tuesdays’ are 20-minute classes designed to further educate attendees on mindfulness and how to improve mindfulness in their work environment. The classes are held at three different times to accommodate caregiver schedules.
  • Mindfulness Rounding: Also a biweekly activity, ‘Mindfulness Rounding’ features a team of mindfulness experts who visit clinical units. The experts conduct learning huddles and one-on-one conversations with caregivers, sharing quick tips. Their pocket cards or guides offer information on easy-to-implement mindfulness techniques.
  • Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop: This 8-week workshop, featuring 1-hour weekly sessions, was developed around the evidence-based standards of mindfulness experts, including, Jon Kabit-Zinn, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness, and Richard Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Healthy Minds and Oxford University’s Mindfulness Center. It offers a deeper dive into various mindfulness techniques.

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Pediatric Nurse, Cheryl Connors, RN, MS, created a peer program to provide immediate support for health providers affected by stressful cases.

The Resilience in Stressful Events (RISE) program was developed with a Pediatric Chaplain, a Patient Safety Director, a Doctoral Student, and General Internist Albert Wu, MD, FACP.

According to the American College of Physicians, the RISE program provides a team of 39 peer responders who volunteer their time to support those who call the service. RISE team members include Nurses, Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Respiratory Therapists, Pastoral Caregivers, and Social Workers. They undergo didactic, video-based, and role-playing training.

The team has been called by more than 700 Johns Hopkins employees. The hospital previously had a program offering free professional counseling but, Ms. Connors said, “They actually prefer somebody who knows what they're going through—another health caregiver who can relate—and when they need it, not a week later.”

As supporters of patients and their families, Nurses deal with a lot of stress. Health systems can help their Nurses by surrounding them with support and offering them the tools to overcome and cope with stress so they can provide the best care for their patients and for themselves.

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Topics: peer support, burnout, self-care, mindfulness, managing stress, stressed nurses, support programs, nursing is stressful, nurse retention, stress management

Minding Our Lives

Posted by Pat Magrath

Thu, Mar 23, 2017 @ 12:12 PM

Mind-full-or-mindful-604x270.pngA few years ago, I attended a conference where Ron Culberson was a featured speaker. Every few months since then, I receive Ron’s eNewsletter and I always find what he has to say inspiring. He points out the everyday things in our lives and how we need to slow down and be present.
Often, he talks about our family and professional interactions and how things we say and do can be misinterpreted. How other things happening in our lives distract us when we should be focused on the present and what is happening right now.
I hope you can take a few minutes and read his article about mindfulness. I found myself nodding in agreement and thinking you are so right. I hope this article will help you in your everyday life.
I know this has happened to you. You’re driving down an interstate highway when your mind begins to wander. Maybe you’re thinking about your boss’s rude behavior or how nice it would be to make a career change. You start imagining all the jobs that might fit your skills. Maybe you should open a coffee shop or be a consultant and work from home. The ideas are coming fast and furious, and you start to get excited about all of the possibilities. Then, it hits you. The reality of your situation sinks in. You passed your exit ten miles ago.

How does this happen? How can we be so focused on our thoughts and still stay on the highway? And how can it be that we have no idea how far we’ve gone or how long we’ve been distracted?
Welcome to being human and having a mind that loves to wander. But don’t fret. It’s a problem that affects all of us.

I’m trying to be more mindful this year and I’m convinced that mindfulness is a skill that can make life easier and richer. Ironically, it’s a practice that most of us never learn. Instead, our minds get distracted by even the slightest of random thoughts. Yet the goal of mindfulness, and perhaps even life, is to stay focused on where we are in any given situation rather than being tempted by thoughts that lead us away from that moment.

Here’s an example of how our minds distract us.

Imagine that I’m having a somewhat heated discussion with my wife. Let’s pretend I’ve done something wrong. I say “pretend” because it’s never happened. But just go with me on this one. Suppose she is upset because I didn’t take the dog out and the dog decided to make a “deposit” on the floor. My wife is accusing
me of not taking the dog out.

The reality of the situation is that we didn’t take the dog out, and the dog pooped. That’s it. No more, no less. If both of us were being mindful of the situation, we would have recognized this and not given it a second thought. Unfortunately, our minds are not satisfied with that approach and prefer to look for more exciting problems. Our egos like drama and love to stir things up.

So, my wife’s ego may whisper something like this,
I was busy working on our tax returns. He knew I was doing something important and could have watched the dog. If he had just been more attentive to what I was doing and taken his turn with the dog, we wouldn’t have to clean up this mess.

Meanwhile, my ego might whisper something like this,
I didn’t want this dog in the first place. At my age, I want to relax. I don’t want to worry about a hyperactive, chewing and pooping machine. I don’t need to be potty training a dog. So, since she wanted a pet, she needs to be the one to monitor that doggone dog.

Then an argument ensues which on the surface, appears to be about the dog poop but in reality, is about the crap that our minds are telling us. And none of this is based on the reality of what really happened.

Does this sound familiar?

How many times have we reacted to our bosses, our partners, our children, or even our pets because of something our heads told us that distorted the reality of the situation. This is generally due to a lack of mindfulness. But there is a solution—it just takes a little effort.

Here’s a quick mindfulness test. Wherever you are right now, take a look around the room and see if you can find something you hadn’t previously noticed. If you’re in your home, this might be harder than if you’re in your office or in a public location. Nonetheless, give it a try.

If you found something, why hadn’t you noticed it before now? Most likely it’s because we typically experience our surroundings through the familiarity of assumptions. We expect to see the tree in the yard or the desk in our office but never really experience the colors, shapes. or sensations of those items as we would if it was a new experience. Ironically, every single second of every single day is a new experience since it’s the first time we’ve experienced that particular moment. So we should go into each moment with an openness to the newness of the experience.

To battle the distractions in our heads that steer us away from the present moment, we need to focus our awareness on right now. Here are two ways to work on this.

First, no matter what you are doing, look at it with fresh eyes in order to be surprised by the novelty of the experience. When we’re open to being amazed, we will be amazed.

The other day, I took a walk. It would have been easy to listen to music or a podcast while I was walking in order to make the most of my time. But the truth is, walking makes the most of my time. When I’m fully focused on the activity, the activity becomes fuller. So, during my walk, since I wasn’t listening to music, I heard a noise in the woods. I turned towards the noise and saw ten deer standing just a few feet away. We stared at each other for a couple of seconds. Then one of the deer snorted and they all galloped away. It was extraordinary. And I’m sure I would have missed it if I’d been focused on the music or a podcast.

Second, when you find yourself reacting to something with fear, anxiety, or some other emotion, ask yourself what’s really happening as opposed to what your mind is telling you is happening. Often, you’ll find that your reaction is based on something your mind is telling you rather than the reality of the situation.

Last week, my wife and I were driving to a college basketball game. About halfway there, I started thinking about something I had said during a presentation and began to worry that while the comment was funny, my client might have found it unfunny, or worse yet, offensive. For the next twenty miles, I could feel myself getting more and more worked up as I imagined that my client was angry with me and that she might not want to work with me again. I became tense, was short with my wife, and felt miserable. However, when I realized what I was doing, I refocused on the present moment and enjoyed the basketball game with my wife. The next week, I got an email from my client and she specifically mentioned how funny the comment in question was. So the reality in my car was not real. It was all in my head. And I spent twenty minutes of my life worrying about it. Thankfully, I made an adjustment before wasting my entire day.

Being mindful means being present to the reality of the moment. The present moment is all that matters. For many of us, our reality is not just in the present moment, but in our heads as we think about last week, next Tuesday, or when we were teenagers. That’s probably too much for our feeble minds to handle. Why not, instead, focus simply on now and make it as rich as possible? That’s how we mind our lives.

Topics: mindfulness, mindful

Study: ICU Nurses Benefit From Workplace Intervention To Reduce Stress

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 02:25 PM 

stress resized 600A small study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that a workplace mindfulness-based intervention reduced stress levels of employees exposed to a highly stressful occupational environment, according to a news release.

Members of a surgical ICU at the academic medical center were randomized to a stress-reduction intervention or a control group. The eight-week group intervention included mindfulness, gentle stretching, yoga, meditation and music therapy in the workplace. Psychological and biological markers of stress were measured one week before and one week after the intervention to see if these coping strategies would help reduce stress and burnout among participants.

Results of this study, published in the April 2015 issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed levels of the chemical salivary alpha amylase, were significantly decreased from the first to second assessments in the intervention group. The control group showed no changes. Chronic stress and stress reactivity have been found associated with increased levels of salivary alpha amylase, according to the release. Psychological components of stress and burnout were measured using well-established self-report questionnaires. “Our study shows that this type of mindfulness-based intervention in the workplace could decrease stress levels and the risk of burnout,” one of the study’s authors, Maryanna Klatt, PhD, associate clinical professor in the department of family medicine at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said in the release. “What’s stressful about the work environment is never going to change. But what we were interested in changing was the nursing personnel’s reaction to those stresses.”

Klatt said salivary alpha amylase, which is a biomarker of the sympathetic nervous system activation, was reduced by 40% in the intervention group.

Klatt, who is a trained mindfulness and certified yoga instructor, developed and led the mindfulness-based intervention for 32 participants in the workplace setting. At baseline, participants scored the level of stress of their work at 7.15 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stressful. The levels of work stress did not change between the first and second set of assessments, but their reaction to the work stress did change, according to the release. 

When stress is part of the work environment, it is often difficult to control and can negatively affect employees’ health and ability to function, lead author Anne-Marie Duchemin, PhD, research scientist and associate professor adjunct in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said in the release. “People who are subjected to chronic stress often will exhibit symptoms of irritability, nervousness, feeling overwhelmed; have difficulty concentrating or remembering; or having changes in appetite, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure,” Duchemin said ih the release. “Although work-related stress often cannot be eliminated, effective coping strategies may help decrease its harmful effects.” 

The study was funded in part by the OSU Harding Behavioral Health Stress, Trauma and Resilience Program, part of Ohio State’s Neurological Institute.

Topics: employees, ICU, studies, Medical Center, health, healthcare, research, nurses, doctors, medical, burnout, stress, medical staff, surgical, stress levels, mindfulness

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