Episode 6: Mindfulness In The Work Place

Episode 6: Mindfulness In The Work Place

May 10, 2019

May 12, is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.  

The nursing profession began around 300 A.D. in the Roman Empire. Thousands of years later, nurses have progressed to be recognized as the Most Trusted Profession in 2019.  

Nurses should be recognized with respect, they have a wealth of knowledge about life, health, and the human body. Nurses have a high degree of responsibility, the smallest of errors or oversights can have potentially disastrous or life-threatening consequences.


Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It can be used as a therapeutic technique.

Have you ever driven your car to a destination only to realize you can’t recall how you arrived there? Most of us have! According to research done by psychologists at Harvard University, the average person is on autopilot 47% of the time. In this busy and hyper-connected world we fail to notice the true meaning of being alive. Our minds are stuck wandering around in the past and future, it’s almost as if we lose touch with present reality. Mindfulness is the state of being consciously aware, to be aware moment-by-moment of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. It is the fundamental human ability to be fully present, no matter what we are doing or where we are.

The opposite of mindfulness is Mindlessness, it makes us susceptible to anxiety, stress, and depression.

If you take time to realize where your mind is throughout the day, you will find out it is never in the now. Our mind is filled with worry and planning. We get upset about the little things that happened and even more upset about things that didn’t. We are blasting through the day and squeezing the present moment to make time, it feels like there aren't enough hours in a day. Every day we rush to work, school, shopping, eating, and checking our phone. When do you take time to be grateful, be in peace, and be with the present? Mindfulness opens the door to many great opportunities, it offers a new perspective on life. This perspective is seeing yourself in the present. How can you ever accomplish anything if you only focused on your past failures or how can you attain your goals if you’re always thinking about the next big thing. Mindfulness is the power of now, it is what you do now that will create your future. We think a lot of people, as well as ourselves, are very prone to not being in the moment. We are taught to always look at the past because that’s what shapes your future but in all reality what you do now is what impacts your future and what you did in the past puts you in your current position.

We want you to be mindful, that includes mindfulness in the workplace.

Remember, being mindful is available to you at all times. Your mind is always with you; you just need to choose when to become aware.

Be present in the moment:

    • To be mindful at work simple means to be present in what's going on in the minute-to-minute activities and be aware of what's happening within you, your emotional and mental state.
    • Have you ever driven from work and don’t remember how you exactly got there? I’m sure we've all had that time where we were in an isolation room and just kept forgetting things, you forgot that tegaderm or the senna.
    • Pick your object of concentration. Do one task at a time. List everything you have to do from the highest priority to the lowest or the most time consuming to the least. Then simply knock them off the list. With each task you cross off, you feel a self of accomplishment.
    • Change your opinion on stress. Welcome it, don’t let the same thing stress you out over and over again.

Mindfulness at work:

    • Take an actual break: nurses scheduled for 12-hour shifts should get a minimum of three 15-minute breaks with one uninterrupted meal period.
      • For “work-thinking,” it’s the prefrontal cortex (PFC) that is activated. When you are doing goal-oriented work that requires concentration, the PFC keeps you focused on your goals. The PFC is also responsible for logical thinking, executive functioning, and using willpower to override impulses. This means that through your 8 or 12 hour work day the PFC is continuously being used. Think of it as a muscle, can you squat for 8 hours a day? Your brain needs a break, without taking a break you are more prone to mistakes or taking inappropriate short cuts.
      • What Matt does on his breaks. 
        • The way I like to take breaks, even if I’m busy, is to have my patients covered by another co-worker while I take 15 minutes away from the work environment. I Throw some headphones on with relaxing music and focus on my breathing. Even if it's a few minutes of slow breathing, you’ll notice the difference and mental clarity.
    • Tips on napping:
        • Keep it short. Ideal nap time is 20-30 minutes. If you sleep past 30 minutes, you risk waking up with the post-sleep grogginess that is difficult to shake off.
        • Find a dark area. Reducing light is beneficial to knockout faster.
        • Plan on your naps. Developing a regular nap routine can make it easier to fall asleep and to wake up.
        • Don't feel guilty. A mindful nap can be great to be more productive.
  • Statistics

    • Nearly 20% of North American workers worry their bosses won’t think they are hardworking if they take regular lunch breaks, while 13% worry their co-workers will judge them.
    • 38% of employees don’t feel encouraged to take a lunch break.
    • 22% of North American bosses say that employees who take a regular lunch break are less hardworking.

Still don't think you should take a break?

A study was done on “The effectiveness of mindfulness meditation for nurses and nursing students”. The results of this study identified that mindfulness meditation has a positive impact on nurses' and nursing students' stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, sense of well-being and empathy.

They concluded that contemporary healthcare is challenging and complex. This review indicated that mindfulness meditation is an effective strategy for preventing and managing the workplace stress and burnout, which so often plague nursing staff and students. Further studies with larger sample sizes using rigorous research methods would be useful in extending this work.

3 Easy mindful things to do at home

  • Meditation: Have you ever wondered why the happiest, most successful people practice meditation? The answer is simple: when adequately developed, meditation yields benefits such as self-awareness, better concentration, and lower stress levels.
  • Aromatherapy: A study revealed that aromatherapy alleviated stress and improved sleep quality in intensive care unit patients after 2 days of the experimental treatment. These results demonstrate that aromatherapy affects stress and sleep quality, thus indicating its value in nursing interventions.
  • Stretching: Back tight, hamstrings tight? There are many benefits to regular stretching. Not only can stretching help increase your flexibility, which is an important factor of fitness, but it can also improve your posture, reduce stress and body aches, and more.

  • Mindfulness will take time to develop, patience is the virtue to have for this journey. You won’t open your mind and have confetti drop from the sky. You will feel a little more present and a little more alive. With practice mixed with patience, you’ll notice your ability to be mindful will improve. Remember, mindfulness is just like a muscle. The more you train the muscle, the stronger and more efficient it becomes. As individuals, we need to grow mindfully, and with proper training, you’ll harness the power of mindfulness to achieve peace and happiness in your life.   

          Remember, mindfulness is not about living “slow.” It’s about heightening your focus and awareness in both work and in life.

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