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How to create focus in the chaos

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While driving home today, I was distracted by the commotion outside my car. Tractor trailers were banging and clanging quickly past me. On the sidewalk, construction workers were shouting to one another. Radios and car horns were invading my quiet space. I was having a hard time concentrating and my mind was racing. Then I realized it: This reminded me of a busy day on a nursing unit!

We’ve all had experiences like these: getting interrupted while calculating medication dosages, being called to the telephone during patient teaching, or hearing a bed alarm and rushing away from talking to a family member about a loved one. And it can get a bit chaotic and stressful!

One way to decrease distraction is through positive affirmations. Stating positive declarations can create greater focus and concentration, and give you a sense of balance. Taking time out each day to sit quietly, breathe and state mantras to yourself can have a deep impact on your happiness, peace of mind and health.

Research has shown that stating mantras has positive effects on stress reduction. In a 2007 study conducted at Duke Medical Center, researchers found significant reductions in stress and negative emotions in participants who used meditation techniques that focused on mantras.

When you do this, you quiet the mind. You create a space that is free from disruption. And then, with practice, you can call upon this state of mind at any point during a busy shift.

Picture this: You have been running all day. Patient after patient needs you. The older gentleman in 312A fell down. Your chronic pain patient in 316B will not lay off the call bell. Any time you think you have five minutes to sit down and chart, another person is calling your name. This has been the longest shift of your life.

Instead of creating more stress, anxiety and disappointment by focusing on the hours ahead, try something different. Take a deep breath and say to yourself: “I have the strength and energy to see this through. I enjoy helping others.” Repeat this until you stand up, ready to give that final medication and discharge that last patient—feeling revitalized and ready to go!

Make time each day, either in the morning or the evening, to quietly state affirmations. Take a slow and deep breath in and out through your nose between each of the affirmations. Become aware of how you feel and start to notice any shifts in energy, mood or stress levels.

Here are some statements I use that can help you get started:

  • I am exactly where I need to be as my journey in life reveals itself to me.
  • I honor my mind, body and soul and treat each aspect of my being with respect.
  • I am a confident, knowledgeable and successful role model as I inspire others to be the same.
  • I know great joy and peace and therefore have wonderful energy.
  • My speech is a form of love.
  • I am limitless in my capacity for joy, healing and happiness.
  • I will achieve perfect balance and be successful in all that I take on.

You can add some of your own affirmations as you become comfortable with the process.

Taking the time to sit quietly with your own positive thoughts will greatly affect your life. You’ll create a way to cope with distraction during your busy days. You’ll generate a calmer presence by slowing down and breathing with yourself. You deserve great happiness, peace and love in your life. Make room for yourself!

Elizabeth Scala
Spiritual Practice Nurse Elizabeth Scala is on a mission to transform the profession of nursing from the inside out. Individuals typically enter nursing with a desire to provide compassionate, heart-based care. Challenged by regulations, financial pressures and technological advancements, today’s nurse struggles to balance the art with the science of nursing. As a speaker, trainer, facilitator and author, Elizabeth inspires nursing teams to reconnect with the passionate and fulfilling joy that once called them to their career.; Back to the Basics: A Nurse's Pocket Guide to Self-Care

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