Ever have so much on your plate, you feel lost?
We know nursing is mentally and physically challenging - you can get stretched to your limit caring for people all day, every day; especially when you try to balance this alongside family life.
Given this, it’s important to keep on top of your mindset and mental health when nursing. If neglected, you can suffer from exhaustion or even burnout.
If you feel you’re beginning to head in this direction, learning how to be mindful may help you get mentally back on track.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the action of being present and connecting to the moment you’re in. This helps kill the attention you pay to negative thoughts, reducing their power over you.
Learning how to practice mindfulness will help you make balanced decisions in high-pressure situations, rather than reacting from raw emotion. If you master mindfulness, you’ll become more resilient when faced with stress - a daily challenge in the nursing world.
How nurses can use mindfulness
Here are five ways to use mindfulness to keep your mental well-being in check, while being the best care-giver you can be.
1. Establish a positive morning routine
Setting yourself up for the day ahead is vital. Have a healthy and filling breakfast to give you energy, and make time to meditate if you can. This relaxes your mind, and can be as simple as catching five minutes of silence, or deep breathing. Headspace is a popular meditation app to try for beginners - get it on your phone and you can use it any time, anywhere.
Allowing time for your commute to work is important in your daily routine. Enjoy the sights and sounds during your journey to activate your senses and put you in a good mood. When working in a new setting, give yourself extra time to adjust to your environment to help you settle in and remain calm during your shift.
2. Take on one task at a time
As a nurse you may find you have multiple things to do at once, which can become overwhelming, leading to distractions and de-motivation. However, multi-tasking has been proven to decrease productivity, so avoid this where possible.
If you know you are likely to have a busy shift ahead of you, write lists and tackle tasks one by one. Work your way through and focus your attention on each task as you do it, when complete move and work your way down the list.
3. Use your breaks
Working long hours can be tough. Whether you are working a day or night shift, make sure you are getting enough sleep before you get to work, as you will need to stay alert and on good form. Most healthy adults require between seven to nine hours of sleep to function well during their working day.
When on shift ensure you are splitting up your working day effectively, whether that’s alternating between your different tasks, or even sharing your experiences with another member of staff. Get outside and get some fresh air, this will lift your mood.
If you find you have been working back-to-back shifts and feel you are taking on too much, take a break from work. Time off is necessary for everyone, and rest increases efficiency. In order to provide the best level of care to others you must first be taking care of yourself.
4. Focus on your breathing
Slow down. Although this may seem difficult to do and counter-productive, stopping and slowing down a little will help you feel re-energised and much more productive.
Taking a moment to yourself to breathe deeply will help bring you back to reality and shift your perception. You will find this will help you feel more positive and 'in the moment'.
5. Make plans after work
End your day mindfully. Take up a hobby and take some mental time off. Planning things outside of work is important when you find yourself in a high-stress and busy environment day to day. Planning your social life around work will motivate you to get through your long days or nights, and allows you to put things into perspective.
Engaging with others is also important in sharing your experiences, especially if you’ve had a challenging day. Tell your brain to leave work-thoughts at work. Once you have completed your shift, that part of the day is in the past - leave it there and focus on the now.
By adopting these daily habits into your routine, you will see a positive change in your work life and attitude. You will find yourself more calm, centred and confident.
Practising mindfulness won’t remove external circumstances, but it can help you deal with and respond to nursing challenges in a different way.
Good luck on your journey to more mindfulness.
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