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3 Small Ways to Bring Mindfulness to the Bedside

Nurses multitask.  We are expected to be flexible.  We accomplish more than any one person should be capable of achieving in twelve hours. We do it all with a smile on our face, at least most of the time.  Behind the smile, our minds our often far from the bedside.  We are thinking about the patient in another room, when pharmacy will tube up the medication that is late, whether our lunch buddy is back from eating, and the charting that needs to be finished from morning assessments.  It is difficult to be truly present with the people that we provide care.  There are many distractions for our attention and energy.  Nursing is also an emotional career.  Supporting, caring and healing people exposes nurses to intense emotion from patients, family and friends of the patient and the nurses own emotion.  Stress, crazy workloads and intense emotions can be huge barriers to nurses having mindfulness at the bedside.

Three tips to put mindfulness in action at the bedside:meditation-clipart-meditation-clipart-animal


  1. It is what it is This is one of my go-to-mantra’s.  This is not a surrender to fate, it is an acceptance of the limits of my power as a nurse.  When I truly have done all the intervening and advocating possible, I accept the outcome.


  1. Being present Mindfulness requires us to pull up a stool, sit down and be with our patients.  It is letting go of everything else in the world for a small space of time in order to be present.  It is important to connect with each other human to human.  Being present also allows our attention to focus on this patient’s needs, fears, wants and hopes.  Not being present causes errors and decreases the trust from the patient


  1. Suspending judgement Being critical of our patient’s actions, feelings, choices or lifestyle prevents us from being present and having mindfulness. It is important to meet people where they are in life.


We will not always be able to be 100% mindful as a nurse.  These three tips can help us be more mindful with our patients for their benefit and ours.


This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at The Balanced Nurse Blog. Find out how to participate.


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8 thoughts on “3 Small Ways to Bring Mindfulness to the Bedside

  1. I loved this post so much Carrie. It is short and sweet but so wise. You highlight the challenges we face as nurses and we can not be all things for all people. How do we attend to an acute patient when the family and patient of a chronic patient feels neglected? We are being squeezed with higher acuity patients and advancing technology. It’s quite refreshing to hear you say it is what it is.
    That doesn’t mean we don’t care. Of course we care, we just can’t control every aspect of the situation. Being present is a key to this and being non-judgmental is essential. The tricky part about that is in order to be non-judgmental, we must consciously bring awareness to our hidden judgments and acknowledge them internally. That would have a great impact on patient care and workplace satisfaction.
    Thank you for your post

  2. Actually, I feel these are 3 BIG Ways to be more mindful. “It is what it is.” Truth. It all begins there. AND No judgement, no blame. Very insightful, powerful post! Honoring your insights and you. Thanks!!!

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I agree these 3 actions have a big impact.

  3. WOW- ‘It is what it is’. Powerful reminder on letting go of what we cannot control. Which is often hard for healthcare professionals who want to ‘fix’ everything and make it better. I loved that point of this post and think your article was so helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Elizabeth I agree it is hard to admit we do not control everything. I think this is one of the reasons our c-section rate in the US is so high. If a baby blinks during labor we grab a scalpel.

  4. When you’re trying to learn a new skill under adverse conditions – busy, distracted, stressed – it seems wise to start out simple, just like you have here. Great work! So often, nurses churn over how much they don’t like that X is happening, or whose fault it is, when they could just accept it, deal with it, make it better. I’ve had many experiences in which I’ve solved the problem while others are still arguing over who should deal with it. When I tell them, they’re caught off guard. It is what it is 🙂

    1. Greg,
      Thank you so much for your comment. You are right! We waste a lot of time complaining about what we can’t change. Even worse, we waste time complaining about what we CAN change, if we just take action.

  5. “It is what it is”…it took me 4 years as an ICU nurse to learn this! I have let myself get frustrated, burned out, exhausted and stressed….but finally realized “it is what it is” and while I can’t control my environment, workplace “rules” or what patients I get, I can control my reaction to them. This is an excellent reminder and one which I had known years ago1 Thank you.

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