I began my mindfulness journey at the same time I started my nursing journey. This was no accident for sure. Like so many other nurses, not even a year into starting my first nursing job in an intensive care unit, I was feeling burnt out, anxious, and even depressed and I was desperate for anything to help me feel better.
That’s when I found mindfulness. I started meditating and consuming books about it whenever I could. I became obsessed with all things personal and spiritual development as well as yoga and meditation. Now, almost seven years later, I can see all the positive effects they all had on my life. Yes, it took time. I didn’t feel the switch flip in my head until earlier this year, so I had put in at least six years of work on myself, personally, spiritually, and emotionally by then.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness simply means staying in the present moment. This includes not being anxious or stressed about the future, or worrying about what happened in the past, just focusing on the here and now.
How this can help with things like anxiety and depression is that it keeps your mind at peace, present, and stuck in the past or future, which is what so much of anxiety is. Learning to be completely present is hard work but so beneficial for your mental health.
How Do You Actually Practice Mindfulness?
1. Breath Awareness
Start to breathe in and out through your nose, really paying attention to how it feels. Sit there for at least 10 breaths keeping your attention there
2. Body Scan and Awareness
Sit and close your eyes. Start to breathe slowly in and out through your nose as you scan down your body. Notice how every part of your body feels as you pass by it and how it feels, what’s touching it, does it hurt and so on?
Take some time at the end of day to look back. How did you feel during the day today? What did you do? How do you feel now? How did you get there?
4. Self Compassion
BE KIND TO YOURSELF. No one is perfect and people who are mindful, know this. Practice self care, meditate on compassion to yourself, or repeat positive affirmations every day to show yourself you matter.
5. Awareness of Others
Especially as a nurse, notice how you impact other people. You make peoples’ lives easier. You help them in their hour of need. You matter to other people and don’t forget how much.
Try to incorporate one of these into your daily life. You can even practice many of them at wor! In the end, all you have is the present moment, so why waste it worrying about something else?
Alison Shely is a nurse practitioner, nurse coach, and nurse content writer who specializes in articles, guest blogger, and healthcare worker wellness.
Visit her website for coaching details and other writing samples.
Sources: 50 State Boards of Nursing, University Websites, U.S. Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ranking Methodology.