The mindfulness movement has enlightened and energized us and our interprofessional partners about the buddha brain, being fully present, and other concepts like breath and body awareness and mindfulness in action.
In the spirit of the new year, here are some tips mindfulness experts, such as Rick Hanson, PhD, Susan L. Smalley, PhD, and Diana Winston, suggest can be helpful to us in our personal and professional lives.
- Be good to yourself. When you are good to yourself, you are FOR yourself, you care about yourself. It sounds simple, but often we feel worried, sad, guilty or angry. Being for yourself means you wish to feel happy and want others to treat you well. Several times a day ask yourself: Am I on my own side? Am I looking out for my own best interests? When you take good care of yourself, you have more to offer to family, friends, students, patients and colleagues.
- Have compassion for yourself. As nurses, we know when our family members, patients or students suffer, we naturally have compassion. You can have compassion for yourself, bringing the same feeling you would bring to any person suffering from the same pain or challenge you are experiencing. With self-compassion, studies have shown we reduce self-criticism, lower stress hormones and increase our self-boosting and self-encouragement.
- See the good in yourself. It’s often easier to see good in others than in yourself. Seeing the good in yourself means getting on your side and seeing your good qualities. Acknowledge the good others see in you too, and feel the confidence, worth and peace it brings you.
- Take more breaks. You’re probably thinking you don’t have time for any breaks, let alone more of them. Tell yourself you deserve them, they are important to your health, and you will be more productive after them. It may not be easy at first, but try to take many microbreaks, where you stop from doing anything just for a few seconds. Close your eyes for a moment, take a few deep breaths, shift your focus away from everything and repeat a saying or a prayer. Stand up and move around. Mindfulness experts call this time as shifting gears, unplugging, making your body happy and going on a mental holiday. Give it a try!
- Find strength. There’s no doubt as nurses we need strength. It comes in many forms, such as endurance, determination, perseverance and commitment. You can build strength, just like anything else. Mental strength draws on physical well-being, which is maintained through proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep and dealing with chronic health issues. Once you establish physical health, recognizing your own strengths within will help you feel even stronger! Be sure to acknowledge how these qualities have helped you in your life and with others. Stand tall and remind yourself that you have and can endure.
- Take refuge. Make a list of the things that provide you with refuge from challenges, which may include certain people, places, activities and memories. It’s anything that comforts you, where you can let your guard down and gather strength and wisdom. It might be as simple as reading a book or walking with a friend.
I’ve included a few of the daily mindfulness practices to entice you into reading more about them. There’s so much more to learn about mindfulness in action and to develop a mindful approach. Perhaps you can incorporate some of the practices in your 2016 resolutions or goals. I know I am. It can become part of your way of living, your way of being in both your personal and professional life.
What mindfulness practices have you incorporated into your life that have helped you?
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