An increased sense of calm—couldn’t every nurse use that?
One way to get it (explored in the Spring 2014 issue of Scrubs!) 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?!
If you’re ready to get your calm on, check out the below meditation and stretching videos (all are under 10 minutes long, so you can fit them in before, after or even during a stressful shift!):
Want more? Check out UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center for free guided meditations.