Workplace stress is considered an occupational hazard. Nurses are then considered as among the most highly stressed professionals because of the physical, mental and emotional demands of their jobs. Researchers have even identified four stress factors among nurses, namely, patient care, responsibility and accountability, decision making, and change.
The physical stressors include frequent bending, lifting and walking during the course of a shift; changeable rosters and shifts; long hours oftentimes stretching to 12-hour shifts; and noisy work environments. Nurses not only experience sleep deprivation and its symptoms but also a high degree of exposure to injuries and illnesses (i.e., from infections, chemicals and toxic substances) while at work. Even the anxiety about said exposure can result to physical symptoms and the vicious cycle continues.
The mental and emotional stress can be draining, too. The professional relationships between nurses and their supervisors, doctors and colleague as well as with patients can be stressful, too.
Fortunately, nurses can apply mediation in their lives and beat the stress! Here’s what you need to know about it from its history to its apps.
History of Meditation
The earliest references to meditation are in the scriptures of Hinduism, an ancient religion. By the 5th and 6th centuries, other belief systems including Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism were developing their own forms of meditation. But historians believe that structured meditation as we know it today was developed in India starting about 5,000 years ago.
But meditation isn’t just limited to Buddhism and Hinduism, contrary to popular opinion. Instead, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity also have their own forms and function of meditation, as is the case for Buddhism and Hinduism. For example, Buddhists use meditation for the realization of interrelatedness with the cosmos; Hindus meditate to become closer to a higher being; and Muslims use breathing controls and repetitions of Allah’s 99 names. Christians and Jews use meditative and repetitive approaches in praying, perhaps with physical postures included.
Why It’s Beneficial
No matter the intended use for meditation, perhaps as influenced by religion or belief system, nurses are well-advised to consider meditation as part of their daily routine – or at least, as an essential part of their lives regardless of the number of times meditation is applied within a week or a month. Meditation has several benefits for every person who applies it, especially for those in stressful jobs like nurses.
Reduces physical and mental stress
According to meditation gurus, meditation is a mind without agitation. When you’re under stress, your mind becomes anxious and agitated so you may experience physical symptoms, such as palpitations, clammy hands, and rapid breathing. With regular and proper meditation, you will be able to take better control over your emotions and calm yourself – indeed, an empowering and powerful feeling.
Improves mental focus and memory
Nurses have to deal with distractions in the workplace resulting in the reduced ability to focus, stay alert, and complete tasks on time. With meditation, you will have a more centered and focused attitude so you’re less likely to be distracted and more likely to multitask – and get great results, too! Your memory capacity will also improve, a useful ability in the workplace where nurses may be overworked from one too many patients.
Nurses aren’t saints, far from it, so when workplace stress gets the better of them, professional and personal relationships can suffer, such as when snapping at a patient. With meditation, you can get a better handle on your emotions because you can understand what they are and why they are present. You can then become more detached from your stressors while still maintaining your compassion.
You will find that meditation increases your sense of acceptance of the ways of the world and, thus, your contentment and happiness about who you are and what you’re doing in life.
Perhaps best of all, meditation aids in slowing down the signs of aging. This is because a relaxed mind and body reduces the risk of chronic degenerative diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes – and that’s why your doctor always adds effective stress management when you have high risks for these diseases.
Examples of How It Can Be Used In the Nursing Practice
Nurses don’t have to find a cool, quiet and dimly-lighted room in the hospital to practice meditation, a common concern when the topic is raised. Instead, the following tips are useful in practicing meditation even while deep in work:
- Spend 10 minutes on deep and controlled breathing while also concentrating on your task, such as writing on the patients’ charts.
- Detach yourself from the patient’s irate words and strive to understand where he’s coming from. You will then be able to control your own outburst while also being compassionate about his situation.
- Use your break to center yourself instead of drinking coffee or socializing with your fellow nurses. Even 10 minutes of restful meditation will suffice.
Of course, you should meditate at home so that you can arrive at your workplace a better person and nurse.
There’s no need to enroll in meditation classes either. You can find plenty of meditation apps for your smartphone like:
- Headspace, which has 10-minute meditation exercises
- Calm, which contains guided meditation exercises, too, as well as unguided sessions
- Buddhify, which have theme-based meditation sessions, such as from waking up and going to sleep, and from taking a break from work and dealing with daily stress
Meditation and nursing do mix! The trick is in choosing which meditation app you can benefit from the most.