As we become more aware of the impact that daily stressors have on health and happiness, more people are turning to mindfulness and meditation as forms of self-care. Mindfulness involves consciously attending to our experiences — our thoughts, feelings, sensations or surroundings — with interest and kindness.
For many professions, a powerful tool can be found in practicing mindfulness. This can be exceptionally true in nursing, and in honour of International Nurses Day on 12 May, we asked Chris O’Brien Lifehouse nurses Anita Howie, Fiona Morris, and Alison Coleman what they do to simply wind down.
“Rather than coming into work emotionally switched off, I encourage myself and colleagues around me to have a mindful attitude.”
“Outside of work I play in a band. I find that if I have had a really hard day at work, I can go and play some music and totally zone out.”
What mindfulness techniques do you use to look after yourself?
F: Outside of work I play in a band. I find that if I have had a really hard day at work, I can go and play some music and totally zone out.
AC: I have been known to go to Ray’s office, who is our spiritual counsellor, and debrief a couple of times. I have to say that because I love Ray, I love that he simply just listens.
AH: I am very much into looking after myself, I think it’s very important. For one, I try not to do too much overtime, because, as an older nurse, you don’t want to burn yourself out. When I was younger I did the opposite, I just kept going and going and going. I also use relaxation techniques. And did I mention that I have a ball that I love to roll on my back?
For International Nurses Day this year, we decided to focus on ‘looking after each other so we can look after our patients.’ How do Lifehouse nurses look out for and support each other?
AC: Just checking in on each other every day, little hugs, coffees, smiles and then sometimes getting out of work and getting together, maybe over an espresso martini or two.
AH: Even if the surgery is very busy I always make sure that everyone has a break. We like to say ‘just take 10 minutes’. Breaks are normally 20 minutes with and half an hour for lunch, but sometimes that can’t happen. ‘Just take 10 minutes’ is about maybe grabbing a coffee and something to eat, or simply going out for a breath of fresh air, because I think if you can’t look after yourself, then you can’t look after your patients.
F: We always reassure and remind each other of our support for one another. Especially when new or younger nurses begin work at Lifehouse. We like to say to them that if they are ever struggling with anything, we are there for emotional and physical support, that they can come to us for anything, and that they can always lean on us.