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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.