Here’s a fact: If you’re an average nurse, you work for around one third of your life. And if you take on overtime or extra shifts…it can feel like your entire life takes place at work.
Here’s another fact: Nurses, more than almost any other profession, can get drained emotionally as a result of spending so much time mentally invested in work and the people encountered there.
All that work + all that emotion = potential for stress.
As an expert on meditation, I urge you to consider incorporating this practice into your life to avert the kind of stress that can cause you to have an emotional breakdown in front of your coworkers and patients.
And believe me, meditating doesn’t have to entail sitting cross-legged in the hospital corridor. It can be a simple, quick way to decompress and manage situations that would otherwise be emotionally daunting for us.
Check out these three scenarios that Scrubsmag.com readers posed and how meditation can help you cope.
Q. How do I deal with coworker drama when they keep dragging me into it? I don’t want to be caught in the middle!
You’re minding your own business, checking on patients and going about your day, when suddenly you’re right in the midst of drama between coworkers. You may have had nothing to do with it, but before you know it, you have been drawn into the fray and it’s the last thing you need.
Instead of adding to it, speak up and suggest that the problem be dealt with after—and outside of—work. After speaking up, step back and find somewhere quiet.
You don’t even have to leave the building to regain a few moments of peace. Sitting in the breakroom for five minutes or finding a quiet hallway are both viable options for brief meditation. Focus on breathing deeply to refresh your mind, and try to put all thoughts of the previous drama out of your head. Think about the next things you have lined up on your schedule, get your bearings and go back to work. The quiet moment to breathe deeply will bring greater focus to your workload.
Q. I tend to get really attached, and when patients die I’m just overcome with grief. How do I get through my day?
Although it’s something no nurse wants to encounter, sadly enough, it does happen. Sometimes, it’s a patient you’ve worked closely with for weeks, or even months, and their passing leaves you overcome with grief. Combined with the sadness and pain of the patient’s family, this situation might seem impossible to deal with at work.
However, even in the midst of one of the most trying situations in your career, meditation can be an effective way to process the pain while on the job. Find a moment to step away and get outside. Fresh air can allow you to clear your head and work through your pain and grief.
As you close your eyes, acknowledge the emotions that you are feeling. Then, try to focus on something that is calming—anything that brings tranquility. Focus on these thoughts and breathe deeply. While you’re not dismissing what happened, you are transferring your thoughts to be able to get through the day until you can really allow yourself to grieve.
Q. Argh! There’s an arrogant new physician and she’s making my life miserable! Sometimes I just want to bite back. How do I stop myself?
As a nurse, you’ve seen it all. That arrogant physician is nothing new…but she sure is frustrating. How can you blow off steam without blowing up at her?
Once again, meditation will prove extremely helpful and beneficial to you in this circumstance. Rather than letting her get the best of you, simply wait for a break in what you’re doing and walk calmly away. Appearing calm and collected will help you feel that way, even when you really aren’t.
If there is no quiet place, find a quiet meditative state within your mind—all it takes is your willpower and whole-hearted effort in order to do so. Allow your breath to enter every inch of your body, and breathe deeply and slowly as you do so. Closing your eyes is a very effective way to remove yourself from the situation momentarily and regain clarity.
Inevitably, it’s your response to life’s stressors that determine your satisfaction with work and with life in general, and you can choose to have a positive response through meditation.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles covering everything from beauty to travel. She currently works with soothingcompany.com, offering tips on meditation, yoga and wellness. As someone who works around the clock, she tries to get at least five minutes of meditation in each day.