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Moments of Mindfulness for Self-Care


Moments of mindfulness are part of each course in the Nevada State College online RN to BSN program. What is a moment of mindfulness, you ask? It is simply anything that brings you back to the present. According to an article on Psychology Today, "Mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance." As part of Jean Watson's theory of human caring and caring science, moments of mindfulness are critical to self-care for nurses -- and the care of their patients. This is at the core of the Nevada State nursing curriculum.

What Is and Isn't a Mindful Moment

Think about the way you make coffee. You probably go step by step without even thinking about it. As you go through the motions, you may be thinking about the day ahead -- that project at work, your kid's soccer game, or a TV show you watched the night before. While we're waiting for the coffee to brew, we're probably checking email or social media on our phones. This is not a mindful moment.

Imagine being present during that entire experience. Listen as you pour the water into the coffee maker. Smell the coffee as you open the container. Listen to the water as it heats. Notice the change in the aroma as the coffee starts to brew. Watch the dark brown liquid fill the carafe. During this time, if you feel your mind wandering, just bring yourself back to the present -- the smells, the sounds and your breath. That is a mindful moment.

Why Is Self-Care Important for Nurses?

Nurses work very hard under difficult conditions, and without self-care, they can burn out, develop compassion fatigue, or even become depressed. When nurses aren't at their best, patients suffer, both physically and emotionally. They know when a nurse is phoning it in, and satisfaction scores drop. Burned out nurses are more likely to leave their jobs, costing the hospital additional money to hire and train new nurses. 

But nurses who practice self-care provide patient better care and are happier doing it.

How Does Mindfulness Translate to Self-Care?

Mindful moments may not sound important -- they may not even seem like self-care -- but they can have a big impact on your life, your loved ones and your patients. These moments are a crucial part of self-care for nurses (and everyone else). If you do not care for yourself, how can you take care of others? There's a reason why flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on first.

The American Psychological Association (APA) lists these benefits to mindfulness:

  • Stress reduction.
  • Improvements in working memory.
  • Reduced rumination.
  • Increased focus.
  • Less emotional reactivity.
  • More cognitive flexibility.
  • Relationship satisfaction.

Mindful Moments at Nevada State College

Each course in the online RN to BSN program at Nevada State contains moments of mindfulness. At the beginning of one module, you may be asked to listen to a five-minute guided meditation. In the next, you may be asked to watch a cute cat video on YouTube. You may journal or go for a walk. There is no assignment attached, and the mindful moments often don't have anything directly to do with nursing. These moments train your brain to be aware and present in everything you do.

Mindful moments embody many of the core principles of Watson's theory of human caring. Staying mindful can help you actually BE A CARING-HEALING ENVIRONMENT for your patients. This practice will help you truly empathize with others and take the focus away from yourself -- which is, ironically, a large part of self-care.   

These moments of mindfulness, repeated over time, can create an ever-increasing awareness of the people around you. Beyond the things we already notice, we will see our patients on a deeper level. What are their health goals? How do they want to be treated? (The platinum rule, also practiced at Nevada State, is not "treat them how you want to be treated," but "treat them how they want to be treated.") By being present with your patients, you'll find out how individuals really feel, and knowing that, you'll know how to better treat them -- both physically and emotionally.

Learn more about Nevada Stata College's online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

Watson Caring Science Institute: Core Concepts of Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring/Caring Science

Watson Caring Science Institute: Caring Science Theory

American Psychological Association: What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness

Psychology Today: 3 Definitions of Mindfulness That Might Surprise You

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