According to the Journal of Nursing, 64.9% of nurses and midwives in Australia experience at least one chronic disease, which included depression, hypertension and asthma.
The most commonly reported health issues included bodily pain, severe tiredness, stiff joints and sleep issues.
Certainly, there are cures for most of these ailments, but are there appropriate preventatives? What if I told you there was a preventative application, that’s free, easily accessible (You don’t even need a prescription!) and involves zero side effects?
Well, there is, and it’s called Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a super simple to access tool that can slow the onset of ailments that relate to stress, repetitive work and overwhelm.
I know, sounds too good to be true.
Researchers have shown that by tapping into mindfulness and relaxation activities, you can have a better chance at maintaining your mental health, relationships and functions associated with the brain’s middle prefrontal lobe area, as well as your memory and cognitive processing. Practising mindfulness has even been associated with improvements in immunity.
So what exactly is Mindfulness and how can you tap into it?
In a nutshell, mindfulness is about focusing on the present. Paying full attention to what is going on––within you and outside your self. And the best news, mindfulness can be accessed by absolutely anyone.
Sounds amazing, where do I sign up?
This is why it’s such a worthwhile practice to learn, particularly for the Healthcare industry. The fact that it’s all within yourself, everyone is equipped to practice it any time anywhere. There are some really easy exercises in mindfulness that you can practice to get you started.
A Few Easy Mindfulness Exercises:
- Pay attention.
Pay greater attention to daily routine activities like showering, brushing your teeth, even doing the dishes. Focus on small parts of these activities, like the feel of bristles, the sound water, the taste of the toothpaste. Bring curiosity to each part, as though you are brushing
Explore with all of your senses. Slow the activities down. Not to the point where you are going to be late for work, (and in turn, bringing more stress) but give yourself enough time to discover something new.
- Tune into your body.
We all get irritated with ourselves, it’s natural. Perhaps you have put on a little weight and feel uncomfortable, or you can’t do a certain physical thing as well as you’d like. You might start to hate on yourself––this self-criticism is detrimental and can have harmful effects on your overall well-being. Pull yourself out of these slumps by focusing on parts of your body that are in contact with other surfaces. Tune into the sensation. Distract the mind by concentrating on that sensation. Is it cool to touch? Is it rough? Does the sensation change when you move your body a certain way? You can practice this attention anywhere, any time and it will definitely bring calm your mind and break the cycle of negativity.
- Breathe and feel it.
Take a few minutes out of your day to just breathe. Up to 10 minutes a day is good, but whatever you can spare. Try starting with 2 minutes and building up as it becomes easier. Breathe in and breathe out and feel your breath. Notice the sensations as it travels in and out of your body. Do not try and control the breath, just notice it as it naturally moves from your body and into your body.
Taking a few slow, mindful breaths can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, causing a ‘relaxation response’, helping you feel more centred and present in your situation.
During these activities your mind may get pulled away, you may fall into thinking about future or past events, or simply daydreaming. Don’t give up if this happens, it’s perfectly natural. But this is where the discipline comes in. Train your mind to focus again on whatever the activity is.
The whole purpose of mindfulness is to help slow your mental activity and build your capacity to stay focused. It takes practice. But it’s worth it.
If you spent just 5 minutes a day practising some of these techniques, I guarantee you’d be seeing the positive effects within a few weeks. So why not start today? What have you got to lose? You spent longer reading this article!