Mindfulness Helps Nurses Cope

Mindfulness Helps Nurses Cope
Photo: John Heller/Post-Gazette

Nursing is stressful!

If you’ve ever been at a hospital you might have noticed how busy the nurses can be, and how adapt they need to be at multitasking.

Which might explain why this profession is so prone to sickness, both mentally and physically.

David Templeton from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

Caring for patients can be “organized chaos,” nurses say. As the foot soldiers of health care, they function at the pressure point, the front lines of the war zone, where “you have to be flawless.”

“You can’t make one mistake,” said Daniel Griffiths, 47, of Greenfield, a nurse at UPMC Montefiore. “It’s physically draining. You’re on your feet for a 12-hour shift.”

It helps explain why stress levels in nursing can lead to mental and physical exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and sleep disorders, with occupational hazards trespassing onto one’s free time.

“When stress is high, it becomes difficult to make easy choices,” Mr. Griffiths said, noting his recent trouble deciding among loops, flakes or pops. “After work, if I go to get cereal at the grocery store, it’s hard to make a choice.”

Stress levels among its ranks have prompted the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing to sponsor training workshops in mindfulness meditation for regional nurses. About 50 participated in daylong training sessions on Jan. 16 and Feb. 13 at the University Club.

Nurses sound in desperate need of such a mindfulness retreat. University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing sponsored the training earlier this year – let’s see how it went:

Studies show that nurses who practice mindfulness cope better with stress, reduce exhaustion, decrease rumination, enhance relaxation and improve life satisfaction, with measured improvements in patient care and satisfaction, she said.

Nursing school Associate Dean Susan A. Albrecht, who participated in the retreat, said it was extremely helpful in teaching her how to pause, focus and care for herself before trying to care for others.

“My stress levels dropped,” she said. “After the first half, I felt like a rag doll.”

What a great example of how mindfulness reaches more and more people, and help them improve their health and general well-being.

Read the full article for more on how UPMC nurses underwent mindfulness training to cope with job pressures.

Next time I am in a hospital (which hopefully won’t happen anytime soon), I will be sure to greatly appreciate the hard work they do. And perhaps recommend some mindfulness training, so they can live more and stress less.

How does stress affect your day-to-day work? Please comment below, and share your experiences.

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