From the Spring 2014 issue of Scrubs
The BEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING
An increased sense of calm—couldn’t every nurse use that? One way to get it is through meditative breathing and stretching exercises, which have even been shown to reduce nurses’ symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
During an eight-week study, nurses with PTSD performed meditation-stretching exercises for 60 minutes, twice a week. By the end, their stress hormones were more normal and they were sleeping better, were more resilient and felt more energetic. Sang H. Kim, PhD, lead author of the study and an exercise scientist at the National Institutes of Health, has some ideas on why meditation is ideal for nurses. Trauma, and even compassion fatigue, can cause a separation of the self from one’s physical and emotional experience.
“A mindful component added to exercise links the mind and body and restores a sense of self,” says Kim. “In addition, deep breathing promotes relaxation and increases oxygen [flow] to the brain.” That’s where the increased sense of calm, lightness and energy comes in. Doesn’t that sound good?! Check out a few of our meditation and stretching videos.
THE BEST MEDICINE?
Music, of course, can soothe the savage beast inside you, but that’s not all it can do. The right tune can get your mojo working again during a break and help you wind down on the way home. To see what songs other nurses turn to in times of need—and to add yours to the mix— check out our nurse-selected playlists.
FIGHT ALARM FATIGUE
If you’re constantly hearing ringing in your ears, it’s probably not tinnitus. Technology, for all its benefits, has dramatically increased the number of alarms in hospitals. In just the ICU alone, the number of alarms has risen from an average of six in 1983 to 40 or more today.
And it’s far more than just annoying.
Alarm fatigue can affect patients’ comfort (noise is one of the biggest patient complaints) and even lead to patient deaths. Forging the way to help RNs cope is the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. The AACN now offers (to members and nonmembers alike) a free 30-minute, on-demand webinar called “Managing Alarm Fatigue: New Approaches and Best Practices,” as well as a detailed downloadable practice alert on alarm management systems. Go to their website for more information.